Fresh violent tragedy in the United States, which is already beset with bitter division

News Letter editorial on Tuesday April 13 2021:

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 8:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 11:33 am
News Letter editorial

The very real problems that exist in Northern Ireland, including the violence to which the church leaders refer opposite, are also playing out in other wealthy parts of the world.

The United States has for several years been wracked with political dissent and social division that has led to bitter demonstrations, and even serious violence.

The trial of four police officers over the killing last year of George Lloyd in Minnesota, which sparked global outrage, is ongoing. In January, an angry rally held by President Donald Trump, claiming that the US presidential election had been stolen from him, resulted in the storming of Congress.

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On page 18 we report on another tragic death at the hands of police officer in Minnesota. It seems from bodycam footage that the officer discharged a handgun when she intended to discharge her Taser.

This is an appalling error if so, which has ended a young man’s life. But even if it is indeed a complete mistake, the United States has been grappling with levels of gun violence per capita that have no parallel in any other part of the developed world, such as Europe or Australia.

America has more than 10 firearm related deaths per 100,000 people per year, while most of Europe has less than two per 100,000. The UK and Ireland both have less than 1 such death per 100,000 people.

That makes these islands some of the safest places on earth, in part because we have such tight gun controls.

The United States has a deep attachment to the right to bear arms, enshrined in its constitution, and rooted in its pioneering history.

What that great nation does about its gun laws is a matter for Americans. But with reports last night of a yet another mass shooting with multiple victims, this time at a high school in Tennessee, admirers of the US overseas will be fervently hoping that it can find some degree of political agreement on measures to reduce the bloodshed.

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Alistair Bushe