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A vision of a gun-free America

  • 06 March 2018


A man in the US took his own life Saturday morning, shooting himself right outside the White House. It forced the Secret Service to order the White House staff present to shelter in place.

The president, in Florida at the Mar-a-Lago for the 14th time as president ready to fundraise and visit one of his golf clubs for the 100th time as president, was briefed on the situation. The scene was cleared, the victim identified, and everyone quickly moved on.

Because in America, a 26-year-old firing multiple rounds into himself right outside the presidential residence is not an A1 story, not a trending topic, certainly not an impetus for policy change.  

American columnists and talking heads were instead still captivated by conversations inside the White House Cabinet Room. Just days prior, the president debated with lawmakers and seemed open to the possibility of gun confiscation and comprehensive background checks, ideas long-opposed by the National Rifle Association as well as Republican voters and politicians.

Particularly shocking was the president's suggestion that he preferred to 'take the guns first, then go through due process'. Americans like to think their constitutional amendments are in order of importance (New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in a 2016 presidential debate that the 'Second amendment was put second for a reason') and Trump's suggestion violated the second and the fifth in the minds of many observers.

But there is not much reason that anyone should take the President's off-the-cuff ruminations seriously. We have seen multiple bold statements walked back in both word and action, most recently on immigration. Those close to the president have also indicated as much. 'Nobody's making legislative policy in the Cabinet Room,' Kellyanne Conway, White House counsellor, said on Friday. And recent reports suggest that President Trump and the NRA. have buried the hatchet, if not the rifle.

The gun control measures that may or may not be up for debate right now — raising the minimum age to buy a rifle, banning high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, and expanding background checks — will save some lives, and therefore should be pursued relentlessly, but they will not be enough.


"Organisers should be unafraid to offer a bold and comprehensive vision for gun-free American society. Yes, all of the guns."


The suicide outside the White House may not spark conversation or policy change — but it should. Nearly twice as many Americans die from gun-related suicides than homicides. The states with