As news of the horrific shooting in San Bernardino was picked up across the world, it was greeted with a dry cynicism and weary confusion as to how these atrocities keep being committed in the United States. No other nation in the world suffers violence like this, and Congress’s refusal to pass any kind of substantial gun reform is becoming not only a source of embarrassment but one that is a legitimate concern for our overseas allies – that our government is so gridlocked that it cannot be trusted to pass reasonable legislation, and that our Republican legislators are so in the pockets of private interests (like the NRA) that
The British Broadcasting service introduced their coverage with this:
“Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic, and fear.” – the BBC
France’s newspaper Le Monde painted a graphic picture that is all too familiar to us:
“The scene is more and more familiar: bodies being taken on stretchers, special police forces arriving in armored vehicles, helicopters turning in the sky…less than a week after an attack on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.”
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz simply noted this heartbreaking timeline:
The shooting in California comes less than a week after a gunman killed three people and wounded nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. In October, a gunman killed nine people at a college in Oregon and in June a white gunman killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.
The editorial board of the New York Times published yet another call for reasonable gun legislation, their exasperation seeping off the screen:
There will be post-mortems and an official search for a “motive” for this latest gun atrocity, as if something explicable had happened. The ultimate question grows with each new scene of carnage: Are these atrocities truly beyond the power of government and its politicians to stop? That tragically has been the case as political leaders offer little more than platitudes after each shootout, while the nation is left to numbly anticipate the next killing spree.
The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was informed of the attack as he was addressing Parliament. He used the opportunity to urge his lawmakers about how important it was to keep to pass responsible legislation to keep their citizens safe:
“Even as we sit here in this parliament, a shocking crime is being committed, or has been committed, in San Bernardino, in California. There is a shocking prevalence of violence around the world at the moment and we recognize that ensuring that these events do not happen in Australia, are thwarted or prevented, is our key objective and that, if they do, we respond to them quickly and effectively. The first duty of every government, as I said, is the safety of the people.”
Mass shootings rarely happen in most other nations – but then again, a significant portion of their politicians haven’t been bought by the gun lobby and the arms industry. In 2014, the National Rifle Association spent $984,152 donating to individual candidates, $3,360,000 on lobbying, and a colossal $28,212,581 on advertising for or against political candidates. That is an astonishing amount of money, and goes a long way towards explaining both the dysfunction in our political system and how the gun lobby is so powerful.
These types of attacks highlight everything that is wrong with our nation – poor mental health programs that has CNN journalists discussing “psychopaths,” the discriminatory fear that has the mainstream media obsessing over whether this was “terrorism” or not (with the obvious subtext of “was he Muslim?”), the outrageous ease with which Americans can purchase deadly assault weapons (shown by the fetishistic discussion of what kind of weapon it was), and the refusal of our politicians to do anything about it but tweet empty condolences and half-hearted prayers. It puts our shame on display for all the world to see. Next election, we must do away with the status quo and fill the chambers of Congress with new faces and ideas- for it’s abundantly clear that the Republican Party would rather see people die than lose their cushy jobs.
We’ll leave you with the cover of tomorrow’s Daily News.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.