The reasons are clear enough. First, the millions of dollars that the arms lobby are pumping into American politics are working against restrictive measures. (Underneath the fig leaf of lobbying is elementary corruption.) Second, there is not enough mass support for anti-weapon efforts among American voters – many people, especially those living in the provinces and poorly educated, still believe in the myth of the sacred inviolability of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. This myth is zealously pushed by gun propagandists, but even without them tens of millions of Americans are ardent supporters of free gun ownership.
The second amendment, adopted in the 18th century, concerned the right of citizens to arms in order to create an armed militia: after all, in those days there was no regular army or police. This amendment should have been canceled a long time ago, but this is not happening and, I think, will not happen even in a hundred years. Even a seemingly obvious thing like a ban on the sale of automatic weapons has no chance of success (it was banned from 1994 to 2004, but the US Congress did not extend the ban).
According to Steven Gutovsky, an expert on the problem of weapons in American politics, in The Atlantic, the most important reason for the lack of reform in this area is the cult of weapons ingrained in the minds of Americans. The love of a large part of the US population for guns plays, he points out, an even more important role than the corruption lobbying of the National Rifle Association (NRA). In recent years, the NRA has struggled financially, has been on the brink of bankruptcy, and has spent less money than before on promoting the Second Amendment and bribing politicians to preserve this constitutional anachronism. But the NRA is able to organize a stream of letters of demand from voters to congressmen and senators. And one such letter from a voter from his “home” constituency outweighs 100 letters from other parts of the country, says Philip Jarney, an NRA board member quoted by Gutovsky.
Corrupt politicians think only about how to get re-election for another term at any cost and stay at the state trough; they have no shame or compassion. None of the endless tragedies associated with the shooting at home prompted them to pass restrictive laws – not even the shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, when a madman fired from his hotel room window at the crowd below; he used 24 weapons, including 14 submachine guns (!), and sent 58 people to the next world, injuring 411 more.
There were incredibly many episodes of shooting at home with numerous victims in America – here are just a few of them:
✔ 1999, Columbine, Colorado: 15 killed (12 of them high school students).
✔ 2012, Newtown, Connecticut: 28 killed (26 of them elementary school students).
✔ 2018, Parkland, Florida: 17 high school students gunned down. In the same year, 10 more high school students were killed by gunfire in Santa Fe, Texas.
An immense list of such tragedies includes shootings in schools, universities, offices, shopping centers, parks … Every day psychopaths come somewhere armed with pistols, carbines, machine guns and other lethal equipment, which they most often acquired quite legally. In the center of New York, the police once detained a guy from Ohio in the subway, who had a Kalashnikov assault rifle with a clip of live ammunition in his bag. The guy was genuinely bewildered: “What’s the matter? I bought the weapon legally, it’s registered! “
In the States, there are many places where, unlike New York, you can not only easily buy weapons, but you can also carry them – somewhere hidden, somewhere open. President Obama once came to Arizona to speak at a rally. As expected, the Secret Service has created a security perimeter around the presidential address. And so gallant guys with machine guns on their shoulders approach the Secret Service agents and demand that they be allowed inside the cordon. They say: “According to federal legislation, it is not allowed.” The submachine gunners object: “We are on the territory of our state, where we have the right to carry weapons everywhere!” They were threatened with arrest, saying that inside the cordon was federal territory, where federal law was in force …
Aggressive psychopaths, dangerous for society, of course, will always find a murder weapon, but a firearm in their hands increases the risk many times over. For example, the other day in Norway, someone killed five people using a bow and arrow. For comparison: in Norway, 10 years ago, the ultra-right fanatic Anders Breivik first detonated a homemade bomb, killing eight, and then carried out a parabellum and carbine shooting, killing 69 (!) People.
The weapon was acquired by him, allegedly for sports and hunting purposes, about a year before the terrorist attack. In light of this, the provision of the law “On Amendments to the Federal Law“ On Weapons ”and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation”, signed by President Putin on June 28 this year, seems quite reasonable: “Citizens of the Russian Federation who acquire firearms for the first the acquisition, storage and use of firearms with more than two barrels or a magazine (drum) for two years is prohibited.
Common sense is clearly present in the changes that are now planned to be additionally introduced into the arms legislation of the Russian Federation. The bill, which was prepared by the Russian Guard, states, among other things, that all those who wish to have a license for weapons will be checked by specialists from the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. If the check shows “an increased risk of violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens, the emergence of a threat to public safety”, the person may be denied permission.
In America, too, there is a check through the FBI of people who want to acquire weapons. However, as the Giffords organization points out on its website, the law leaves extremely dangerous loopholes through which criminals and mental patients can acquire firearms. (The Giffords organization, which advocates tighter gun control, was founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In 2011, she was wounded in the head when an armed nutcase killed six and injured 13 people at a rally where she spoke.)
There are many states in the United States where only licensed arms dealers are required to submit buyer’s details to the FBI for verification. If someone sells weapons through an Internet site or from a stall at a fair, the seller may not verify the buyer. From these “free” states, weapons easily migrate to “not free” states, although the law prohibits, on pain of criminal punishment, the transport of weapons across state lines without special permission. The criminals, of course, do not care. And here’s the result: 80% of the weapons used for criminal purposes were purchased from unlicensed vendors.
And here is another, from my point of view, an important provision of the legislative innovations proposed in the Russian Federation: the National Guard, on the basis of the conclusions of the security services, will be able not only to refuse to issue permits for possession of weapons, but also to deprive those already issued. At the same time, it is necessary that those who do not meet the requirements should be deprived of not just licenses, but real “trunks”. Removal from private possession of weapons is possible – this is shown by the experience of Australia after the tragedy of 1996. Then, in Port Arthur (Tasmania), 35 people were killed and 28 were injured, and the Australian parliament immediately passed a law that sharply tightened the rules for the purchase and registration of firearms. The possession of automatic weapons was completely prohibited, and it was forcibly confiscated from the population (the government paid compensation for legally acquired “guns”).
You can find a lot of useful international experience in the field of arms control, the main thing is to stay away from the American experience. The states are unique in this regard: according to statistics from the Geneva Institute for International Research and Development, in 2018 there were 120 “guns” for every 100 US residents. The Russian indicator was less by an order of magnitude – 12 per 100 people. We will try to keep this lagging behind.