THE BLOG
05/10/2015 06:10 BST | Updated 01/10/2016 06:12 BST

Almost 1,000 Massacres Since Sandy Hook and the USA Still Hasn't Learned Its Lesson

It may sound trite, but it's a really simple equation. There will be fewer people shot if there are fewer firearms readily available. Just how many mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters must be told that a family member will not be coming home because a lunatic has put a bullet in them before the USA will actually do something about it?

The damning inevitability with which commentators from all sides now speak following a gun tragedy in the USA says a lot about the situation the country finds itself in. President Obama seemed frustrated with having to address another media conference after yet more of his citizens have been killed in an incident where a white male took a gun to a campus, this time Umpqua Community College. "Somehow this has become routine," he said.

By now, the news of the events feel somewhat devoid of any actual human connection such is the frequency of these sorts of incidents. The reports feel divorced from reality and with each series of murders, the shock factor is somewhat diluted. A blasé "Oh, it's happened again?" isn't as far away as you'd think.

The latest is a shocking incident - but millions of people are not shocked by it.

The National Rifle Association is always quick to defend the weapon when it comes under the attack of the watching world. The most famous soundbite, which came from NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre after 20 children and six adults were shot dead at a Sandy Hook school in Newton, Connecticut in 2012, is that "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Since then, there have been 994 mass-killing incidents and almost 300 of them have happened this year alone. That's almost one a day. I don't want to sound like I'm trivialising that figure, but you've got to be pretty fucked up to turn that into a pro-gun stance. Almost 1000 massacres doesn't scream "there needs to be more firearms for good people" no matter how hard and how long you look at it.

When the pro-gun lobby says that these incidents shouldn't be politicised and that the time for analysing gun control isn't so soon after such a tragedy, it raises the question of exactly when is. These stories are now so frequent, it will always be too soon.

Perhaps if the "bad guys" in each of those mass killings couldn't pop down to their local supermarket and pick up their week's groceries, a few snacks and an assault rifle, then it might not have been a ridiculously simple task for them to walk into a college campus and end the lives of thousands of innocent victims, who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It seems baffling that so many people in the United States seem to ask how on earth these sorts of tragedies happen every time they do, without even considering the most obvious and glaring answer. Millions of people own guns. And guns do have a very limited range of uses.

It should be as difficult as possible for anybody to get hold of a firearm and it should be a criminal offence to be caught in possession of one, with very few exceptions. Of course, some will slip the net; however a large number of would-be criminals, many of which suffer from mental health issues, would not be able to attack innocent victims quite so easily and many wouldn't know when to begin in trying to obtain a weapon.

For the record, mental health funding was cut by $4bn nationally between 2009 and 2011 - but no stringent gun laws have been imposed. People with such illnesses need support, not simple access to semiautomatic rifles. Also for the record, the majority of weapons used in incidents of mass killings in the USA are acquired legally.

In 1996, when 28-year-old Martin Bryant entered a café at Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia, and ate his lunch before setting off on a killing spree, the reaction in the country was for a clampdown on firearms. This was the massacre that tipped the country over the edge; almost 650,000 weapons were turned in to authorities in a national buyback scheme. Gun-related homicides dropped around seven per cent year on year.

Every argument in favour of keeping firearms available to the American public boils down to "I want a gun". It's not protection, those waters get muddied when family members are also likely targets as they make noises in the haze of a 3am wake-up in the home. Leave them in an open place and kids can discharge them completely by accident; lock them away and they're hardly protecting anything. The icing on the cake is that owning a firearm increases a person's risk of suicide.

In large parts of America, guns have been fetishized. They can end a life relatively easily and they should be feared, not revered, fondled or posed with for photographs to make a good Facebook profile.

It may sound trite, but it's a really simple equation. There will be fewer people shot if there are fewer firearms readily available. Just how many mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters must be told that a family member will not be coming home because a lunatic has put a bullet in them before the USA will actually do something about it?