California shooting: Guns, bread and butter in America

Burning with rage, a man shot and killed his estranged wife Monday while she was teaching a class at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California; an 8 year old student injured in the shooting also died. The gunman was identified as Cedric Anderson, 53, of San Bernardino and his wife was identified as Karen Elaine Smith. Police said the couple had been married briefly and had been separated for about a month.

gunsThat’s an average of nearly one school shooting per week in the U.S. since 2013 and more than half of all women killed by intimate partners in the U.S. are killed with guns.

Every school shooting in America brings back memories of Sandy Hook massacre in the winter of 2012 where a 20 year old with Asperger's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder shot dead his mother using her guns before killing 20 of the youngest students, six adults and himself.

“You don’t have to be loony to shoot, you just have to be angry for a few minutes,” says a tall, burly man who’s come to pick his child up from school in the neighbouhood where I live.

He takes out a gun from his pocket.

“I’ve had this for 20 years. I have a license. I carry it with me everywhere but I don’t have to be crazy or sick to kill you. I just have to be mad at you,” he says.

For a country with as many guns as people, that’s the scary part.

Lockdown drills are now routine at schools across the USA, elementary shool kids know the rules only too well, especially after the rising nervousness of wingnut attacks after the Paris massacre in late 2015 and the San Bernardino shooting in 2016.

San Bernardino, about an hour's drive east of Los Angeles, became synonymous with gun violence when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 people and wounded 22 others in December 2015 before being shot dead by police.

At the time, before the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, it was the deadliest attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.

Questions will now rage on about how Trump blocked an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally ill people.

The rule was designed to prevent an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to buy firearms as part of Obama's efforts to strengthen the federal background check system in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. The Republican-majority Senate, backed by the National Rifle Association pro-gun lobby and disabled advocacy groups, voted 57-43 to overturn the regulation.

In a country of painless gun laws, it’s legal to open-carry in 45 states. America has more than 14 million carry permits and open carry means different freedoms in different states. You can carry a gun into buildings in Kentucky, into school in Michigan, into the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, into grocery stores in Georgia, and anywhere you please in Mississippi.

American civilians own far more guns than anybody else on the planet. Guns in America were never exceptional, they have always been perceived as part of the bric a brac lying around near the front door, like shoes, baseballs and coats.

Just after the unbearably brutal school shooting that killed 20 children and 6 staff members in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, a bipartisan bill for something as basic as background checks for gun buyers came up short. That’s how strong the National Rifle Association is - they control voters in swing states. Politicians need those swing states, like Trump needed Florida or Hillary needed Pennsylvania to take the White House. The cookie crumbles.

Time and again, Obama said, tearful and sincere, that America's gun culture must obsess us. That’s precisely what ties Americans to guns - obsession.

When Obama ran for his first term, 'Change' was his campaign's central pitch.
Quickly, bumper stickers were plastered with vengeance across majority white states - "You keep the change, we'll keep our guns.”

After eight years of Obama and in the first year of Donald Trump, gun possession is only rising.

Unlikely that will change.

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Updated Date: Apr 11, 2017 05:54:46 IST

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