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Waiting For The Next San Bernardino

08/12/2015 8:28 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Tags are seen with words of encouragement written on them during an interfaith memorial service at the Islamic Community Center of Redlands, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Loma Linda, Calif. The memorial service was held to honor the victims of Wednesday's shooting rampage that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

On 2 December, the the carnage unleashed in San Bernardino, California, became America's 352nd mass shooting in 336 days of 2015. Barack Obama was right when, reacting to the latest incident, he told CBS News, "We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world."

Gun violence in America is playing out with a sickening regularity, followed by the blame being predictably pinned on either mentally ill shooters or "radicalised" terrorists.

The shooting on 2 December claimed 14 lives and left 21 injured. Yet again, American hearts were ripped open by gun violence. Again, on television, there were the familiar images of the police searching buildings and cars, the ambulances frantically arriving to offer aid. Again there were photographs of horrified survivors clutching each other as they cried. Again, the grief-ravaged faces of the victims' family and friends were flashed everywhere.

Guns will kill again and the cycle will repeat itself. We are left to wonder yet again: Are we completely helpless in America to stop this?

These are images that we in America are accustomed to. They don't shock us. This is our "new normal."

Details about the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shooters and their twisted motives are still trickling in. We know that there were two main suspects, Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, who had a six-month daughter together. They were killed in the shootout with police after the massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in the city of San Bernardino.

I know the media will spend weeks analysing the suspects from every angle. Were they terrorists or just plain evil people with hate in their hearts for America? They will record how another community is facing the horror and the trauma of senseless gun violence. And we all know that the heartbreak and the devastation will last long after the investigations wrap up and the media moves to the next story.

And then there'll be a next time. Guns will kill again and the cycle will repeat itself. We are left to wonder yet again: Are we completely helpless in America to stop this? Is this issue completely hopeless? Is it beyond the power of the government to fix? Is the National Rifle Association too intimidating to take on?

Even as so many communities are left broken and traumatised by gun violence, sales of firearms are steadily rising. Last week, on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation processed 185,345 background checks. It's also worth noting here that all the guns used in the last 15 mass shootings were purchased legally. At least eight gunmen had criminal histories or mental health issues but that did not stop them from purchasing guns.

People keep stocking up their personal arsenals. The grim statistics are extremely sobering. Reports say that in the last four years, more people have died from gun violence in the US than in the wars of Iraq, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan taken together. That amounts to one death every 16 minutes in America. And there are currently 300 million guns in circulation in the US today.

In the last four years, more people have died from gun violence in the US than in the wars of Iraq, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan taken together.

President Obama and his Democratic party have focused on what they say is a problem with guns being too easily available to all. Republicans say that possessing guns is a constitutional right and that the emphasis should be on mental health issues.

Who is right? The heated, emotional debate remains unresolved.

I believe that it's pointless to blame race or religion for mass shootings. Guns are an equaliser, they all use them. It's simple: if there were stricter gun control laws, there would be fewer mass shootings.

Meanwhile, and my heart sinks as I say this, we are not safe in America. All we can do is hope that the next shooting, and there's no doubt that it will happen, won't strike too close to home.

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Five Years, 19 Mass Shootings, No Action


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