On Wednesday, at least 17 people died in or around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the town of Parkland, south of the state of Florida. There, Nikolas Cruz, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, fired at the students and staff at the school. A story that is repeated with alarming frequency in the US
And revive the debate about the need or not to control the possession of firearms.
Who is Nikolas Cruz, the author of the mass shooting at a Florida, high school that left 17 dead
How is the AR-15 rifle, the weapon used in several of the deadliest mass killings in the US
“This only happens in the United States. This epidemic of massacres, this scourge of school shootings after school shootings, only happens here. And it is not a simple coincidence, it is not by bad luck, but by our lack of action,” he claimed. Democratic senator Chris Murphy.
What is the difference with other places that Murphy cites? There are nations like Scotland and Australia, which in the past were scenarios of similar tragedies, which enacted laws to control the bearing of arms strictly.
And the results are obvious: in Australia, there has been no such massacre since 1996, when the new regulation on weapons was issued.
While in Scotland, where a shooting took place in an elementary school that same year, gun control – which extended to the United Kingdom – has reduced gun crime by 75% in the last decade.
“Colleges as bunkers”: how are the strict security measures in US schools to avoid killings like Parkland and why they are failing Strict laws in Australia, and the United Kingdom are given in a different cultural and political context from the US, and it is precisely the culture of the firearm and the policy rooted in the US Constitution – which grants the right to citizens to be armed – that hinder any legislation.
But things could be changing, say some experts.
Twelve days after the worst massacre in the country’s history, state and local governments enacted comprehensive laws for arms control. More than 20 years later, these policies are reflected in positive results.
Within ten years of the restrictions, firearm killings had fallen 59%.
Suicide rates for the same causes fell further, to 65%.
But the statistic that most attracts attention is that, before the massacre in Port Arthur, the country had been the scene of 11 mass shootings. Since then, there have been none.
The peculiarity of Australia, in addition to applying restrictions on the carrying of weapons, was that it initiated a massive campaign to buy semi-automatic weapons, shotguns, and rifles in circulation. The government managed to remove more than 600,000 from the streets, one-fifth of the total in Australia.
However, with the overwhelming number of weapons held by civilians in the US – almost one per inhabitant – it is difficult for such a measure to work, explained Garen Wintermute.
“We have to take measures that can be adapted in our environment, where arms ownership is accepted,” said Wintermute, who is also a doctor of emergency medicine.
“Those measures may include the ban on assault weapons, those with high capacity chargers, but in the US millions of those weapons are in circulation and we cannot recover them.”
However, there are things that can be done immediately, said the expert.
One would be to prohibit the private sale of weapons that evade certain rules of identification and background checks, which are regularly imposed on authorized retailers.
This has been the first plea of the previous government, that of Barack Obama, and has also been sustained by the Democratic party in recent years, without success.