US president Barack Obama has asked media outlets to chart gun deaths versus terrorism deaths in the United States. Here’s what that looks like.
By Matthew Liddy.
During an impassioned speech in response to a mass shooting in Oregon, United States president Barack Obama asked news organisations to publish data comparing gun deaths and terrorism deaths in the US.
“I would ask news organisations … [to] tally up the number of Americans who have been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who have been killed by gun violence,” Mr Obama said.
“We spend over $1 trillion and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil — and rightfully so — and yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”
The number of gun deaths so far in 2015 is much larger than the number of terrorism deaths in the US between 1970 and 2014, figures from the Global Terrorism Database and the Gun Violence Archive suggest.
“This is a political choice that we make — to allow [mass shootings] to happen every few months in America,” Mr Obama said.
“We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.
“When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.
“So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon … doesn’t make sense.”
Mass shootings have become ‘routine’
Mr Obama says mass shootings have become “routine” and Americans are “numb” to their impact.
Figures from the Mass Shooting Tracker project suggest there have been 294 mass shootings in the US this year, killing 378 people.
“What’s [also] become routine of course is the response of those who oppose any kind of commonsense gun legislation,” Mr Obama said.
“Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. ‘We need more guns’, they’ll argue. ‘Fewer gun safety laws’.
“Does anybody really believe that?
“There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country — they know that’s not true.
“We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws, including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
“There is a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?
“We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.”
‘Australia, Britain show there is another way’
Mr Obama called out Australia as one of the countries providing evidence there is an alternative.
After the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, prime minister John Howard introduced a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
“We know that other countries — in response to one mass shooting — have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings — friends of ours, allies of ours, Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours,” Mr Obama said.
“So we know there are ways to prevent it.”
Mr Obama says the issue of gun violence is too important to ignore.
“Of course what’s also routine is that somebody somewhere will comment and say ‘Obama politicised this issue’,” he said.
“Well, this is something we should politicise. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.”
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