The United States, once again, find themselves crying more victims due to the terrible phenomenon of gun violence. On October 26, Robert Bowers, 46, drove to Tree of Life synagogue armed with a Glock .357, handguns and a Colt AR-15 rifle. He entered the synagogue, made statements indicating his desire to “kill Jews”, and so he did. Eleven people were left lifeless on the ground. Needless to say, this tragedy spiraled into an inevitable cluster of protests against gun violence. Specifically, against president Trump’s visit to the city, which took place on Tuesday.
More than 70,000 people signed an open letter from Pittsburgh-based Jewish leaders saying that President Trump was “not welcome” in the city unless he “fully denounces white nationalism”. This is clearly comprehensible as the total number of incidents caused by an improper use of a weapon is around 48,000 in 2018 alone. President Trump and members of Congress denounced the violence but show no signs of actually doing anything to stop it. So, Americans will continue to die from guns at a rate of one every 15 minutes.
In February 2018, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. The National Rifle Association (NRA) ‘applauded’ Trump’s action. Chris Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said the move “marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms”. Hence, it appears clear that the Republican members of the Congress still has close links with the NRA and its pressure still runs high in the Oval Office as well.
On the other hand, former President Barack Obama responded to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting with a call for Americans to fight “the hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently”. “We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh,” Obama said on Twitter late Saturday. However, it was also difficult for him to pass laws against gun violence. Only 2 laws were passed during his two-term presidency.
The NRA spends millions to influence Congress and the White House to advance its agenda. And its monetary prowess is still growing. But for how much longer can they hide behind the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and its “right to bear arms”?