Jill Stein: US faces ‘political problem’ in tackling violent gun crime
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shootings, in which 20 children and six school workers died. US President Barack Obama called for tighter gun control measures as he commemorated the day.
On Friday, a student opened fire at a high school in Centennial, Colorado, critically injuring a classmate before apparently taking his own life. The school is located down the road from the Aurora movie theater where a gunman went on a shooting spree in 2012, killing 12 people. It is also just 15 miles from Littleton - where two enrolled teenagers opened fire at Columbine High School in 1999, murdering 12 students and a teacher.
Stein told RT that gun violence, and its interaction with broader social and political problems in the country, clearly still needs tackling, and that the wide availability of arms isn’t necessarily protecting people. Rather, it is often doing just the opposite.
“It’s a very complicated problem, but that said, there’s a lot we can do about it. And while rates of violent crime and gun homicides have gone down over the last two decades, really they are still sky high compared to what they could be - and what they should be. We have about 100 times the rate of gun homicides and violent gun crimes relative to many countries of Western Europe and we should not be in the business of normalizing violence,” said Stein.
“It’s clear there is a relationship between gun violence and economic violence and poverty, and racial disparities and economic disparities. And the more we become an unjust society, the more we are at risk for continuing gun violence and potentially growing gun violence,” she added.
While 90 percent of Americans want the issue to be solved, there is a political problem that prevents the US from fixing it in the way that the people would like, Stein said.
“People don’t trust government because government has been bought and paid for by powerful special interests like the NRA. And the NRA is actually doing a disservice and fails to represent the interests of ordinary gun owners because it has become dominated by big industry. And its policies essentially reflect a marketing strategy to keep selling guns.”
Stein argues that the US should look to other countries such as Australia, which is just as much of a gun culture as America, when searching for great examples of dealing with the issue of gun control.
“In 1995 when they passed limits on automatic weapons [implemented] background checks, and actually did a buyback of dangerous automatic and semiautomatic weapons – they have not had a single mass shooting ever since. And the rates of ordinary gun violence dropped by half. They have saved $500 billion per year. It has not been a slippery slope in Australia.”