Las Vegas, and the untold tragedy of guns


As the news unfolded about the deadly Las Vegas massacre of dozens of innocent people and the maiming of many hundreds, the first thought of African Americans and Muslims in General, living in the US, would have been, ‘we pray that the bloody assailant is not one of us’.

America’s Commander in Chief Donald Trump would have lost no time in further demonizing his own American Muslims, and also those around the world too. Earlier this year when the UK underwent its own awful terror events, at Westminster, London Bridge, and Manchester Donald Trump could not help himself from stirring up even more division by attacking our Mayor Sadiq Khan and Muslims in general. He did the same thing when terror events unfolded in Paris and Germany too

And whilst we don’t know the motivation for yesterday’s horror killings, we do know that the killer Stephen Paddock stockpiled an arsenal of weaponry that would not be out of place in a battle-hardened war zone.

But whilst the US will once again engage in its cul de sac debate about the right to bear arms, and, that it’s not the guns that kill people but the minuscule minority of ‘pure evil’ individuals such as Paddock. And whilst the US debates whether or not Paddock was the devil, the untold story of America’s gun tragedy barely gets spoken about much less resolved.

As awful and as shocking as the yesterday's killings and maiming were, it pales into insignificance when set aside the accumulative effect of almost daily mass shootings, which is described by as more than four people, not including the gunman being shot.

According to the organisation Gun Violence Archive, there have been 1516 mass shootings in 1735 days, and whilst the almost random and or political mass shootings get the biggest headlines a significant proportion of the mass shootings would be a gang-related crime, and often Black on Black.

That it is Black people killing other Black people barely makes the news beyond a few lines in the local paper, but this on-going, slow-motion tragedy in Black areas in places such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angles and Baltimore is the norm that wider America simply ignores.

Take the city of Baltimore, which has a slightly higher population than Manchester. This year alone there has been nearly 300 murder, 29 this month, and a countless number of mass shootings, often located in a region of the city smaller than Tooting in West London. The untold story screams poverty, gangs, and low-level drug dealing, with guns and deaths centre stage.

But whilst white America is relatively untouched by this - the bay area of Baltimore is a world away - there is no compulsion to focus resources or political will to find solutions.

The sad truth is that even if there is a slight shift in the US reigning in its wild west gun laws, it will barely make a dent in the thousands of African Americans murdered or maimed because of the lethal cocktail of poverty, drugs, and the millions of firearms on the streets of America.

Yesterday’s Las Vegas massacre was an awful tragedy that at least will be debated. The decade's long killings of tens of thousands of African Americans, a problem that is eminently solvable is not even on the agenda to be discussed.

Simon Woolley