News Release

“If Guns Made People Safer U.S. Would be Safest Country”

The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group that counts mass shootings, lists the Dayton shooting as the 251st mass shooting of 2019.”

REBECCA PETERS, rebecca.peters101 at gmail.com
Peters is the former director of the International Action Network on Small Arms. She helped lead the campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws in the 1990s.

She said today: “The world is once again grieving with Americans over mass shootings, and once again wondering when U.S. legislators will take the obvious steps toward preventing such tragedies from occurring.

“Racist extremism and thwarted masculinity are not particular to the U.S. – their noxious miasma simmers within societies around the world, and increasingly, as in New Zealand this year, erupts into violent attacks.

“All other countries that recognize the danger are responding logically with measures to limit the damage that racist extremists can do – by strengthening their gun laws. Semi-automatic weapons are a product manufactured specifically for killing large numbers of people. Yet the U.S. is the only nation whose policymakers insist on making this product easily available, even when it is used again and again to do just that: slaughter human beings because of cultural differences or personal slights.

“The evidence is clear. If guns made a country safer, the U.S. would be the safest country in the industrialized world. But the opposite is true. Per capita, you are six times more likely to be murdered in the U.S. than in Australia, and 25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun.

“What changes to make? For a start, ban assault weapons and require universal background checks – although the current U.S. system of background checks is far from adequate. It relies on an instant check of the patchy computerized criminal record system, which means anyone who hasn’t already been convicted of a serious crime can have guns. This is an astonishingly low standard which mass shooters (and domestic violence killers) generally have no trouble meeting, because they don’t have serious criminal convictions. It’s only after they commit their first offense – murder – that they become ineligible for gun ownership. Cold comfort for the victims and their communities.

“We may never be able to solve the problem of disaffected haters. But we can certainly prevent them from translating their disaffection so easily into mass murder at shopping malls, festivals, nightclubs, cinemas, churches and schools. One glimmer of hope: the wheels appear to be falling off the National Rifle Association, due to internal conflicts, financial irregularities and legal problems. Perhaps legislators will find the courage to wriggle out of the NRA’s grip and decide to facilitate peace and safety instead of murder and suicide. If not, they are effectively helping to arm the next round of mass killers.”

Peters’ past pieces include “When will the U.S. learn from Australia? Stricter gun control laws save lives” published in 2013 by the British Guardian.