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Who’re making money off US mass shootings?

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Dordon Brack aims a semi-automatic AR-15 that is for sale at Good Guys Guns & Range on February 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah. (Photo by AFP)

The US firearms and ammunition industry generates annual revenue of $13.5 billion and is selling millions of guns annually in a country where more than 30,000 people die every year due to gun violence.

As the number of mass shootings is going up in the United States, so is increasing the sale of firearms. Every mass shooting creates more insecurity among Americans, and they run to purchase more guns. 

Following the October 2017 Las Vegas massacre, the worst mass shooting in modern US history, one gun store owner reportedly registered some 30,000 sales of the AR-15 assault rifle in only one week.

In 2016, the arms industry sold a record 27 million guns, and about the same number of firearms was sold to Americans in the following year.  The industry is making billions but American civilians are paying the price for it by losing their sons and daughters to shootings which are becoming a daily occurrence now.

Following last week’s deadly school shooting in Florida, where a 19-year-old former student used an AR-15 rifle to gun down 17 students and educators, there has been again a huge hue and cry for the need to have better gun control laws in the United States. 

The February 14 rampage was the second-deadliest shooting at a US public school. The deadliest was the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

But this time again, Congress is unlikely to pass any legislation to tighten rules and regulations on buying and owning guns, particularly so-called assault weapons with which a single shooter can mow down dozens of people in minutes.

The United States has a powerful gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), which contributes heavily to the election campaigns of most members of Congress, particularly Republicans.

The gun lobby also showers money on some Democrats but its main beneficiaries are Republicans, such as House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Rob Portman of Ohio and Ted Cruz of Texas.

US Republican Senators Ted Cruz (R) and Marco Rubio

The gun lobby also poured into tens of millions in the 2016 election campaign of the current US president, Donald Trump, who on Wednesday suggested arming teachers as a way to stop more rampages.

Trump held a meeting with students who survived the Florida shooting and a parent whose child did not. At the end, the Republican leader said arming teachers would prevent future mass shootings, the idea which was first floated by the powerful gun lobby.

And on Thursday morning, Trump reiterated his proposal to arm school teachers as a great deterrent against mass shootings, describing "gun free" schools as a "magnet" for criminals.

The lawmakers working for the powerful gun lobby had successfully frustrated efforts of former Democratic President Barack Obama during his tenure to contain the easy availability of firearms on America’s streets. 

Obama had tried to expand background checks and impose new restrictions on guns following massive shootings during his time in office.

He pushed for gun reforms, including expanded background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines, but the powerful gun lobby and its people in Congress fiercely opposed the measures.

Obama said the greatest frustration of his time in office had been the inability to reduce unparalleled levels of gun violence in the United States, adding that the phenomenon was terrifying him.

Gun production had more than doubled under the Obama administration, according to reports by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It has been estimated that Americans own 270 million to 310 million guns, and that about 40 percent of households in the country have at least one gun.

Since the 1990s, debates regarding the easy availability of guns and the violence caused by them in the United States have been characterized by concerns about the right to bear arms, such as defined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Firearms regulation advocates state that restricting and tracking gun access would result in safer communities, while gun rights advocates state that increased firearm ownership by citizens reduces crime and assert that criminals have always had easy access to firearms.

A majority of US gun owners insist the right to own a gun is “essential” to their freedom, while many others believe that the ease with which people can legally obtain guns in the United States contributes to gun violence.

On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adults were fatally shot by Adam Lanza, the gunman who later killed himself at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town of Newtown in the US state of Connecticut.

Following the shooting, a task force funded by the NRA recommended more armed guards and teachers in schools. Now President Trump is voicing support for that recommendation.

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