The United States of America experienced two mass shootings in a space of 24 hours. The shootings, which took place in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio left 31 people dead. The attacks come amidst hate rhetoric against immigrants that has pervaded the country. The shootings took place a week after another took place at a food festival south of San Francisco, which left three people dead. America continues to struggle with gun control.
The US President Donald Trump blamed the recent mass shootings on video games, mental illness and social media. Trump was quoted saying: “we must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now common place. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately . . . We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement”.
Putting the blame on everything else asides the proliferation of guns has continued to be a response from Republican leaders in America, including the current president. On the 15th of March this year, the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand saw gun owners in the country hand over their weapons to the police after swift measures were employed to control gun ownership. The shootings left 51 people dead and an immediate introduction of tougher gun controls. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced: “Our gun laws will change, now is the time… People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that”. New Zealand’s parliament banned military style and semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and certain sizes of magazines and ammunition. A buyback program was also introduced with 150 gun owners turning in their weapons.
Nigerians! I have created a travel advisory update due to recent happenings in the USA. Please read this! Here are options of safer countries to visit – https://t.co/5IXKEoYXdz
Signed – Regular citizen who keeps doing the job of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. pic.twitter.com/5AYsKWbxqJ
— Funmi Oyatogun (@funmioyatogun) August 4, 2019
The polarised reactions to the mass shootings in America, and the debate on whether to label the killings as white terrorism has exposed the double standards with which the country, particularly Trump, deals with the problem of gun violence. Some critics and observers have rightly argued out that if the shooters were Muslims, Latino or Black, then the question or convenient excuse of their mental health or laying the blame on video games or another outlying psychological reason would not have been made. Many on social media have blamed the shootings on President Trump who is labelled with the hashtag #WhiteSupremacistInChief for his influence on the El Paso shooter. The anti-immigrant rhetoric by President Trump and his party is part of a rising narrative by white supremacists all over the globe.
The safety, and security of foreign nationals in America is of paramount concern. While no African country has issued travel warnings to America, Nigerian Geographer and Environmentalist Funmi Oyatogun issued a travel advisory update to Nigerians on the security situation in America. Uruguay also issued a travel warning to its citizens visiting America.