Americans went to bed ten days ago saddened by yet another gun massacre, this time in El Paso, Texas, only to wake the next day to news of gun carnage in Dayton, Ohio. While the communities mourn and the media endlessly analyse the causes, the political responses are again highlighting the United States’s deep political divide, and Donald Trump has again revealed himself as a president who is unable either to unite the nation or to focus on the root causes of gun violence. The rest of the world looks on in dismay.
On the face of it, that weekend’s carnage might seem unlikely to dramatically change the gun control debate in America. That didn’t happen when twenty-six people, including twenty children, were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or when seventeen students and staff were shot to death at a high school in Parkland in Florida. It didn’t happen when gunmen invaded religious sanctuaries and murdered Christians in Texas, Jews in Pennsylvania and Sikhs in Wisconsin. And it didn’t happen when shootings occurred on military bases and in a gay night club.
The president and Congress are away from Washington on August vacations, and it seems that anything that does happen won’t happen for at least several more weeks. The contrast to New Zealand’s response to the Christchurch massacre couldn’t be starker. Americans seem increasingly resigned to living in communities in which no trip to a shopping centre, a school, a place of worship or a festival is safe. Indeed, a poll last week found that 78 per cent of Americans expected another mass shooting within three months.
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