Why isn´t the United States considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world?

—Editorial—

Trump, the great cynic , shamelessly calls Mexico “one of the most dangerous countries in the world”  in one of his reelection rantsHowever, he seems to forget that, in his own country, things are not at their best, just yesterday (Tuesday April 30 2019) there was another mass school shooting at  North Carolina University in Charlotte.

The story of massacres in the US is a long one. According to historians, they began in 1949 when  Army veteran  Howard Unruh killed 13 of his neighbors in Camden, New Jersey. Since then, the United States has witnessed many of these notorious crimes such as the attack in Las Vegas or Sutherland Springs, in Texas. And it is even less likely to forget the shootings at Sandy Hook or Columbine. What about “The Valentine’s Day Massacre,” the shooting that left 17 dead at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida just over a year ago.

Let´s put the 60´s, 70´s 80´s behind… Hundreds of episodes of  active shooters in schools or public places have been recorded in the US since the year 2000, according to data from the FBI .  Shootouts have become so common that many schools hold drills in which students practice how to react to such a situations.

Trump blaims the “bad hombres” but people in the United States and elsewhere are trying to understand the reason why these mass shootings happen. In reality there are many and very complex reasons behind this disturbing trend . To begin with, we would have to talk about what underlies the mind of the killer, which is long and intricate, but can allow us to catch a glimpse of what has happened. 

Statistics from Statista show the number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and February 2019,  62 out of 110 mass shootings were initiated by white shooters. As an example, of the 153 mass shooting cases, none had ended in the conviction of a black man, woman, or undocumented immigrant. So far, all shooters have been Americans, mostly white, from middle class families with access to firearms and rage… lots of rage.

These attackers are using weapons with high-capacity magazines, allowing them to fire multiple shots without recharging, so they become more effective. The shooting time period is lengthened because it has more bullets. Add to the equation the ease of buying assault rifles in the United States, to which is quite easy to get a “bump stock“, the mechanism used by attacker in Las Vegas (the most lethal in the modern history of the United States) to modify his weapons and shoot dozens of bullets per minute.

Maybe Mr. Trump doesn’t know, doesn’t care or doesn´t want to affect his gun supporters financial interests, but in 1994 a ban was passed on semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity loaders. This ban was lifted in 2004. With these weapons shooters can shoot faster and for shorter periods of time each time and, consequently, they are able to kill more people in their attacks.

While some states have toughened their stance against guns, such as Connecticut after the Sandy Hook massacre (they passed a law banning assault rifles) other states watered down their gun laws. In Georgia, for example, a law was passed that allows people to bring guns into classrooms, nightclubs and other places.

It is scary to enter the minds of shooters, as their attacks are carefully planned and they have even been known to compete with each other. Dylan Klebold, one of the attackers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999, described his goal: “The greatest number of deaths in U.S. history… we expect”.

That’s one of the reasons why attacks now take place in places with large numbers of people, such as the concert in Las Vegas, that was attended by 22,000 people, or the attacker who opened fire at the presentation of a Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, who thought attacking a movie theater would give him a higher death toll.

To all of the above, let me add that the criminals are inspired by media reports. Coverage of mass shootings, like the attacks themselves, have skyrocketed in recent years.

Attackers have been known to post on social networks before committing the crime and sometimes while they are carrying it out. The media create live pages and provide 24-hour coverage, and journalists often focus on the killers, giving details of their lives, and unintentionally contribute to the glorification of these individuals.

Something similar happens with Mr. Trump who has a psychological profile worthy of being reviewed by mental health specialists. Like mass shooters, he is inspired by media reports, most of the times posting his own opinions and harassing others on social media. Mass media coverage of these attacks , have triggered more violence inside an out of Twitter in recent years. And as with shooters, the media offers 24-hour coverage of what Trump says, and unintentionally contribute to the glorification of these ideals.

In Mexico´s modern history there has only been one shooting in a school (Monterrey, México 2017). The current violent deaths in this country stem from drug trafficking and it is very rare for people not involved in this criminal activity, to suffer any harm, although it can and has happened. Crimes like that of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa were retaliation for getting into the interests of drug trafficking… and something worthy of mention. Almost every weapon used by organized crime in Mexico comes from the United States.

For The Yucatan Times

Jose E. Urioste Palomeque / May 01 2019
Merida Yucatan, Mexico
jeuriostep@hotmail.com

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Adendum…
Mexican drug cartels have a powerful financial incentive: Across the border to the north is a market for illegal drugs unsurpassed for its wealth, diversity and voraciousness. “Tecatos” (heroin addicts) “Nevados” (cocaine users) “Tweakers” (Methamphetamine users) or “Motorolos” (marijuana users) to name a few, are, in all, 46 percent of Americans 12 and older who have indulged in the often-destructive national pastime of illicit drug use. There’s a tremendous amount of denial from Mr. Trump and the United States government regarding drugs. It is easier to blame Mexico but perhaps, Mr. Trump who claims to be a “master of the deal” hasn´t understood “supply and demand”. Maybe he studied basic economics at Trump University.

More on this subject in my next editorial May 08 2019

 



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