• Let’s not be sanctimonious about the US shooting epidemic

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    IN the wake of the latest tragic mass shooting incident in the United States, several of our readers and even a few of our own colleagues have noted, with evident relief, that this horrifying and peculiarly American epidemic is at least not something we experience here in the Philippines.

    The extent of the problem in the US is astounding. According to widely circulated statistics, “mass shootings,” if defined as incidents in which four or more people are wounded or killed by gunfire, have occurred at least 355 times this year in the US, or about once a day. Sometimes, they happen more often than that: On Wednesday (Thursday here in Manila), the same day the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, California claimed 14 lives and wounded at least 21 others, there was another shooting in Savannah, Georgia that killed one person and wounded three more.

    Similar crimes do, indeed, happen here from time to time. In May 2008, 10 people were gunned down inside an RCBC bank branch in Laguna as part of a robbery. The most spectacular incident in recent memory, of course, is the shamefully as-yet unresolved Maguindanao massacre in November 2009, in which 57 people – including 34 journalists – were gunned down in a politically motivated ambush. In October 2010, eight people lost their lives in the Manila Bus massacre. And in January 2013, a former barangay chairman in Kawit, Cavite, killed nine people in a shooting spree.

    But even as tragic as those incidents were, that record pales in comparison with the near-daily occurrence of multi-victim gun killings in the US, and the implication is that, despite the Philippines’ acknowledged problems with maintaining peace and order, we are somehow “a better people” than the Americans, who refuse to make the connection between too many guns being freely available to almost everyone, and virtually constant gun violence.

    Not so fast. Despite the attention-grabbing nature of the struggle with gun violence in the US, the Philippines remains a far more violent place. According to statistics gathered from the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, the Philippines ranks 10th in the world for gun violence, with 9.46 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people every year. The most dangerous country in the world is the tiny Central American nation of El Salvador, which is overrun by drug gangs and has a gun-related death rate of 50.36 people per 100,000. The US, despite the impression the news makes, only ranks 28th in the world, with about 3.55 gun deaths per 100,000 people.

    While we sympathize with the victims of the latest shooting incident in the US – and yes, shake our heads a bit at America’s inability to get a handle on its gun problem – we should also remind ourselves that our own efforts to create a safer, more law-abiding nation are far from adequate, and must be among our highest priorities for ourselves and those who would ask for our votes in next May’s elections.

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    6 Comments

    1. The item that Pilipinas should worry about will be self-radicalized citizens that go on murderous attacks against their co-workers or neighbors. And more and more Pinoys of Mindanao (and even Pinoys of Quezon City or Pasay or Las Pinas) more and more Pinoys are getting weird ideas from the ISIS propaganda. Ingat, Pilipinas!!

    2. These incidents are not just confined to “The war on Terror” I can remember even as a small boy always being in awe of the amount of gun Violence in the States..

      ..
      It was an unthinkable to me that an ordinary person could go around with a loaded gun …

      The whole history of the States, involves some how the use of weapons /…The gun that won the west …Is popular cliche..

      The idea that there are winners and losers appears to be stamped in the psyche …So much so; that individuals rights –supersedes that of society ..

      So that to take away my right to own a gun ;far out weighs the danger this represents to the rest of society

      We can say that guns don’t kill people. and other platitudes —The fact is that easy access to guns; coupled with easy access to alcohol –Plus People with mental health problems having guns –Is a recipe for disaster ..

      We have a mind set in USA which says shoot first ask questions later …Sure we know guns don’t kill on their own ..We know cars don’t run people down on their own –But these platitudes don’t alter the facts –The wrong people are driving cars –The wrong people are owning guns ..

      People are so worked up over the amount of violence, they are ready to shoot that gun at a drop of a hat..

      The USA seems to want o go back to the days where every one had a gun –Where the it was literally the quick and the dead /….

      Instead of being a compassionate society….The USA is going down the track of “might is right”.

      If you look at the Hollywood image that America portrays to the world …its one of the smooth talking conman/gangster..Even the “good guys” solve their problems with guns or fists ..

      This is how the”greatest country in the world ” Appears to like to be seen …Maybe OK on the screen

      Its Hell on earth in reality !

      I remain
      yours Faithfully
      Dr David M Meyer (PhD psych)

    3. The Philippines has very strict gun ownership laws. Yet there are heavily armed rebel groups and gangs, even assassins. Criminals don’t care about the law. Most of the mass killings in the US occur in gun free zones where it is illegal to have a weapon, either legally concealed or openly carried. There is no defense against someone who could care less about the law. Unless you disobey the law and bring a concealed weapon into these areas and possibly be able to take down one of these nuts before too many are shot. Then you would face charges for disobeying the law.

    4. Now let’s also not be too sanctimonious and hasty in concluding that the tradition of gun ownership causes mass shootings like the ones we see often in the news. Guns don’t cause mass shootings in the same way that cars don’t cause vehicle accidents. It’s the person holding the gun who is to blame, not the gun itself. Here’s a fact: the cities and states in the US that havev the highest rates of gun violence are the ones with the strictest gun ownership laws. It’s the crazies who murder people, not the law abiding citizens who dutifully register their firearms. Mass shooters fall into three categories: Radical Islamic Jihadists, crazy insane drug and alcohol-fueled losers, and organized crime syndicates. The current Western secular liberal mindset of Americans is a big factor in creating psychotics who see no hope in themselves and go out and kill people.

    5. The atmosphere in the USA now, in my opinion, is nearing panic mode,as one mass killing after another is occurring at an alarming frequency. And I can tell you first hand that this was not the country I envisioned it to be when I first came here decades ago. I don’t know for sure the cause or causes of all these tragedies but I can say for sure one reason is that this country have slowly strayed away from God. So despite the political turmoil and the poor economic conditions that you have there in the Philippines, you are still blessed. And I still plan to retire there when the time comes.

    6. With the rise in the global terror threat, our porous borders, our known cells of in country existing terror groups along with all of that local mantra line of thinking that the US is worse off than we are when it comes to mass shootings could change in an instant should ISIL / ISIS supporters go on a Christian extermination rampage that is a very real possibility any day now.

      We should not become complacent and be vigilant in our quest to become a safer country. It is a known fact that taking guns away from citizens does not prevent mass killing incidents. Those that want weapons will find them and use them regardless of existing or proposed laws preventing the possession or use of guns.