As of today, June 8, 2017, less than half way through the year, 6,596 people in the US have been killed and 12,946 people have been injured from gun violence. See Gun Violence Archive. In Mexico in 2016, nearly 23.000 people were murdered. See Mexico’s drug-war death toll in 2016 reportedly exceeded murder levels in many countries mired in war.
Each of these numbers is an order of magnitude larger than the norm in the developed world. See the New York Times article Compare These Gun Death Rates: The U.S. Is in a Different World in which Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz observe that, “This level of violence makes the United States an extreme outlier when measured against the experience of other advanced countries. Around the world, those countries have substantially lower rates of deaths from gun homicide. In Germany, being murdered with a gun is as uncommon as being killed by a falling object in the United States. About two people out of every million are killed in a gun homicide. Gun homicides are just as rare in several other European countries, including the Netherlands and Austria. In the United States, two per million is roughly the death rate for hypothermia or plane crashes.” At Sandy Hook Elementary School in my state of Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, a twenty year old man strolled into a school and murdered twenty students and six teachers. None of those students or teachers had woken up that morning expecting their lives to be randomly ended later in the day because someone with mental aberrations had access to lethal weapons.
The National Rifle Association is much to blame with their love affair with the Second Amendment – a provision in the Bill of Rights intended to allow citizens to raise local militias at a time when no standing army existed and local militias were needed to protect against potentially lethal neighbors. But fault also can be laid at the feet of the gun and weapon manufacturers who benefit from the loop-holes in US gun laws that allow anyone, without a background check to purchase weapons at gun shows. These loopholes drew media attention recently when ISIS recommended the US as a place where one could weapon up. See Time, ISIS Tells Followers It’s ‘Easy’ to Get Firearms From U.S. Gun Shows.
Research shows that the US is a major provider of the weapons used in the Mexico gun wars.
In a March 2, 2017 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, We’re sending guns, crime to Mexico, Sarah Kinosian and Eugenio Weigend, note that: “Most of the weapons used by criminal groups in Mexico originate in the United States. Each year, an average of 253,000 firearms cross the border, the overwhelming majority of which come from the Southwest states of California, Texas and Arizona. From 2009 to 2014, more than 70% of firearms — nearly 74,000 — seized by Mexican authorities and then submitted for tracing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms came from the United States. Many of these guns were semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47, cartel favorites that Mexican citizens cannot buy legally.”
As they further note: “The business of violence can be highly profitable, and the American gun industry is cashing in, with U.S. sellers and manufacturers arming both sides of Mexico’s conflict. Research from the University of San Diego has shown that half of U.S. gun dealers benefit financially from the U.S.-Mexico illegal gun trade, to the tune of $127.2 million in 2012. Meanwhile, manufacturers also sell weapons and ammunition to Mexican security forces as they fight well-armed criminal organizations. Between 2015 and 2016, U.S.-based gun manufacturers signed nearly $276 million in commercial firearms deals with Mexico. Other U.S. defense companies signed agreements worth more than $560 million during that period in planes, helicopters and other equipment to outfit Mexico’s military and police.”
So here’s my take. When, as with Citizens United, you unleash the corporations to buy elections and wrest political power to their will, it is pretty much a given that government policies that benefit corporate profit will reign, while concerns for public welfare take a back seat. That is nowhere more obvious than in the US, where health care is run for profit, where prisons are run for profit, and where AR-15s and AK-47s are sold, and run for profit. It explains the recent multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, where a massive new influx of weapons will descend on a Middle East in flames, sold to a country run by Sharia Law, where dissidents are routinely arrested and beheaded. The Second Amendment notwithstanding, there is no excuse for the US promotion of gun sales and consequent slaughter of her civilians. I object.