"Why is this happening in America?"
I just got back from a two-week sabbatical in the United States hoping to decompress from the stress of the daily news here on riding-in-tandem shooting, kidnap for ransom and the monster traffic in Metro Manila.
But I was wrong. Instead I was subjected to a surfeit of horrific news of mass shootings in three places in just two weeks.
The worst incident was the killing of 20 people at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas. This was followed by another random act of violence in Dayton, Ohio which left nine people dead. Earlier, seven were shot dead in a garlic festival in California.
Why is this epidemic of violence happening in America?
First is the easy access and availability of guns under the US policy of the right of every citizen to bear arms to protect himself or herself against lawless elements. The problem is that instead of preventing crime and defending oneself against criminals, the gun buyer becomes the potential criminal.
US authorities describe the recent mass shootings as an act of terrorism by homegrown terrorists. These are the US’ new enemies from within. They are not your stereotype Middle Eastern variety. He could be the son who’s breaking up emotionally or a co-worker who feels left out and despondent.
It is when this depressed person reaches a tipping point that he decides to commit a senseless act of violence as reprisal for imagined hurt and offenses against him.
In the El Paso shooting, the suspect who was captured told police he was targeting Mexicans in the area. The police refused to relate his statement to the anti-illegal Mexican immigrants position of President Donald Trump.
Why build a wall along the US-Mexico border? Shoot them instead, the El Paso gunman must have thought.
Many and most Americans condemned the mass shootings as senseless act of cowardice. But after the furor and outrage, expect more such incidents to happen.
America from the East and westward is a land founded on guns. Hence, we see the lore of gun duels between bad men and sheriffs as the stuff of Western movies.
The lobby and influence of the powerful National Rifle Association is a factor to reckon with. Politicians seeking public office know they need the endorsement and funding of this lobby group to win. So don’t expect legislation to curb gun sales. It won’t happen.
What will happen is that there will be more incidents of mass shootings by crazed lone-wolf gunmen.
Fortunately in the Philippines, mass shooting and suicide bombing is not an acceptable practice. Suicide bombing was resorted to by police in Indanan, Sulu but has yet to be repeated in Metro Manila’s crowded shopping malls where the casualty rate would be high.
It is therefore, incumbent upon security guards to make sure a mass shooter or suicide bomber does not slip past them and wreak mayhem inside the mall.
A rash of random shootings would be a worse epidemic than the current epidemic of dengue cases on the domestic front. So far more than 100,000 dengue cases with more than 400 deaths have been reported nationwide, with Metro Manila recording the highest number of cases.
With the onset of the rainy season, resulting in flooding in many areas, the dengue-carrying mosquito is expected to proliferate.
It is heartening to see that the Department of Health and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are joining hands on the dengue problem. The use of the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine is being studied by the DOH to fight the dreaded disease. If this is successful, the French pharmaceutical firm Pasteur Sanofi will be vindicated against allegations that its drug is non-effective and even lethal.