Three dead in America’s latest mass shooting

RIP: This tribute to victims Taylor Robertson and Elijah Clayton was shared online. © @ChaseDel

Can anything stop gun violence in the US? Two video gamers were killed by a rival player in a shooting spree that left several more injured — sparking fresh calls for a crackdown on guns.

“No one deserves to die over playing a video game.” So said Derek Jones, a competitor in a Florida esports tournament which became the scene of America’s latest mass shooting on Sunday.

Elijah Clayton and Taylor Robertson (both well-known professional gamers) were gunned down by rival player David Katz as they took part in an American football video game contest. Katz injured 11 others in the spree before turning the gun on himself.

A live-stream of the event captured the terrifying moment that the shooting began. In the video, a small red dot appears on one of the player’s chests. The feed cuts away from him just before several loud gunshots ring out.

“We did see him, two hands on the gun, walking back, just popping rounds,” said Taylor Poindexter who had been ordering pizza at the bar — “I was scared for my life,” she said.

Florida has suffered a spate of horrific mass shootings in recent years. In 2016, 49 people were murdered in a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. And last February, 17 people were massacred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

“We should not have to experience #AnotherFLShooting,” tweeted March For Our Lives, the protest group that formed after the Parkland shooting and campaigns for stricter gun controls: “We must #StopGunViolence.”

The US has the highest rate of gun violence in the developed world, with almost 16 times as many firearm homicides as Germany, and six times as many as Canada.

A key factor in this is the sheer number of weapons Americans own. In the US there are over 120 guns for every 100 residents — meaning there are more firearms than people. Several studies have shown links between a high rate of gun ownership and increased gun deaths.

Indeed, nationwide the number of firearm homicides has steadily risen over recent years, from just under 11,000 killings in 2000 to over 14,000 in 2016.

Can anything be done to stop gun violence in America?

Land of the firearms

Change is coming, some argue. Surveys show that many Americans now support stricter gun laws: from universal background checks to bans on assault weapons. And nations like Australia proved that reducing people’s access to weapons vastly cuts the homicide rate. If outrage over recent gun attacks continues to swell, politicians will have to take notice.

That is wishful thinking, others respond. Swathes of the American population have a deep and historic relationship with firearms, and any major legislation that threatens the right to own guns will never take off. Add to that the immense political clout of the NRA and gun control becomes a distant pipe dream.

You Decide

  1. Should citizens be allowed to own guns?
  2. Would the world be a better place if guns had never been invented?

Activities

  1. Write down three reasons why people might favour gun control, and three reasons why someone would argue against it. Which reasons make the most sense to you and why?
  2. Watch the second video in the Become An Expert section. What do you think of the gun owners that it features? Do you agree or disagree with the things they say? Why do people find guns so fascinating?

Some People Say...

“Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.”

Dianne Feinstein

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The shooting took place at the Jacksonville Landing, a large shopping and entertainment complex. Emergency services were called to the scene at around 1:34pm. The shooter used a handgun in the attack and died from a self-inflicted wound at the scene. There were no accomplices.
What do we not know?
We do not know the precise motive for the attack, or if the shooter was specifically targeting Clayton and Robertson. Unconfirmed reports have claimed that the shooter had reacted angrily after losing a game. Florida introduced some minor gun control measures following the Parkland massacre — including raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 — however, we do not know if any further gun restrictions will be considered.

Word Watch

#AnotherFLShooting
Several hashtags following the event made reference to the repeated shootings that have afflicted Florida in recent years. For example, another widely shared hashtag was “#GunshineState”.
16 times
According to UN data compiled by The Guardian.
120 guns
According to analysis by the Small Arms Survey. The US has over twice as many privately owned firearms as Yemen, a war-torn state in the Middle East.
Studies
See the Vox link in Become An Expert for more information.
11,000
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Surveys
See the Vox link in Become an Expert for more information.
Australia
A mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996 killed 35 people. Sweeping gun control laws were passed, and over the following seven years Australia’s firearm homicide rate dropped by around 42%, and its firearm suicide rate fell by 57%.
NRA
The National Rifle Association of America.

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