As yet another school shooting incident happens in the United States, I find myself wondering why this so often happens in America and why we rarely hear of school shootings anywhere else in the world. It leaves me wondering if Americans are actually a savage people or maybe their near fanatical obsession to their constitutional “right to bear arms” is just blinkered thinking in a culture of violence that yesterday saw yet more students gunned down in a place that should be safe.

The latest school shootings will no doubt stir the gun control debate once more. Those people who enjoy firearms will speak up in defense of all the people who have a gun but haven’t yet use it to kill anyone. Politicians will do their best to be sympathetic while trying very hard to slide around the issue of imposing sensible gun control in a country that kills more people with firearms every year than the rest of the developed world combined.

In the year 2000, of the 275 million people living in the United States, 10,801 of them were murdered by someone using a gun. Yet despite having over 100 million more people than the U.S, the European Union saw only 1,260 firearm homicides take place in the same year, and Japan, a country of 127 million people, had just 22 gun related homicides.

As someone who lives in a country with very strict firearm controls, I find myself completely perplexed by the apparent resistance in the United States to gun control laws that might have prevented yesterdays killings, and the 80 or so gun related killings that occur each and every day, in the United States.

According to statistics from Word Heath Organization (in the the World Report for Violence and Health for international firearm mortality), Americans are 175 times more likely to be murdered by someone using a firearm than somebody living in the UK. You might assume that in the UK a killer would instead use another weapon, but figures do not support that assumption. In fact there are still nearly four times as many non-firearm related homicides in the U.S. than the UK according to the report.

The second amendment of the U.S. Constitutions states that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” But there is currently no clear indication of what exactly a “well regulated militia” is.

It seems strange to me that many Americans will cite terrorism as the biggest threat to America today when in truth they are far more likely to be shot and killed in a violent crime than any act of terrorism.

On average, the annual mortality rate from firearms incidents (be that murder, suicide or accidents) in the United States is around 30,000. In 2001, America’s worst ever year of domestic terrorism that saw the twin towers and the Pentagon attacked, 2,996 people were killed by terrorists. Since then, despite the fears of many, the number of victims of domestic terrorism in the U.S. has not even got into double digits, while at the same time another 150,000+ Americans have been killed in gun related incidents.

After 9/11 the U.S. government introduced a raft of sweeping laws that would seem to deeply encroach upon the highly valued “freedoms” of the American people. Oddly enough though, there was little resistance to these so called ‘anti-terror’ laws which were softly sold as ‘making America safer’ to anyone who paid enough attention to ask. Yet after yesterdays school shootings, and the many other such shootings that have occurred, it seems highly unlikely that the American people will demand a similarly sweeping change to make their homeland safer.

In the next few day there will be 33 funerals for the victims of yesterdays school shooting, but despite the obvious dangers and risks of such easy access to firearms it’s unlikely that the President will boldly announce a ‘war on gun crime’ in the same way that war was declared on terror and drugs.

It seems that in the land of the free, the right to own a gun is more important than the lives of the 320 people who will die by the bullet before the end of the week.

The World Report for Violence and Health for international firearm mortality
The impact of firearm deaths on life expectancies in the US
Virginia university shooting kills 33
Meanwhile : Murder by numbers
Gun culture
Guns don’t kill people
U.S. Constitutions
The right to bear arms