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NY shooting shows failure of government

By Harvey Dzodin | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-16 09:26


The New York City subway attack during Tuesday morning rush hour in which 33 shots were fired, wounding 29 subway riders, is shocking, but not surprising. Miraculously, this time there were no deaths.

The incident, however, shows governments at all levels in the United States continue to be incapable of or not interested in protecting their own people, and the US system of law enforcement is broken, for it cannot guarantee citizens, rich or poor, even the basic human right of living in safety, free from fear.

Compared with China, which is striving to realize its goal of common prosperity, the US engages in uncommon hypocrisy, demonizing China and its system of "whole-process democracy" that has helped lift more than 800 million Chinese people out of abject poverty-while during the same period, wages in the US have stagnated and the rich have gotten enormously more wealthy at the expense of the other 99 percent who have been disproportionally footing the bill.

As a result, the rich in the US pay little or no taxes but reap huge windfalls. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, US billionaires' wealth surged by 70 percent or $2.1 trillion. That's more than $6,300 for every person in the US.

Gun violence is endemic to the US, and far more complicated and serious than even COVID-19. Indications are that the day-in and day-out slaughtering and maiming will continue unabated, even get worse in the dysfunctional system that has split the US right down the middle into a zero-sum muddle.

Sadly, the forces of smaller or no government have made giant steps in taking over the country and, in November, are likely to not only take control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate but also impeach President Joe Biden.

Heaven help us!

There is no commonly accepted definition of a public mass shooting incident but the statistics are staggering no matter which parameters are applied. By one definition, excluding gang killings, domestic violence and organized terrorism, of which the US has its fair share, there were 163 mass shooting incidents between 1967 and June 2019.

Using a similar definition, another study found that the US accounted for nearly one-third of mass shootings globally between 1966 and 2012. Sadly, many of us still remember some or all of them. The worst occurred at a music festival in Las Vegas five years ago in which one shooter killed 58 innocent people and injured 546 more.

Why, you might ask? One reason is because the US is awash in guns, more than 390 million by some estimates, meaning there are more guns than people in the US.

I vividly remember visiting an old friend I met in Beijing at his Wisconsin farm four years ago. I knew that he liked guns but was shocked when he told me that he had more than a hundred weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle and a Glock handgun made in Austria.

Studies have shown that fewer guns result in proportionally less gun violence. The lack of guns is one reason China is so safe. For the US, what's even more unfortunate is that there is zero chance of reducing the number of lethal weapons in the country, at least in the foreseeable future.

But why is the US awash in guns? It's because of a powerful gun lobby and its supporters who command an army of lobbyists at the federal, state and local levels, and use carrots (financial contributions) and sticks (funding opponents of incumbents) to block even the most common sense gun regulations favored by two out of three Americans polled by Morning Consult/Politico last year.

It's no coincidence that many of the same churlish people who recklessly insist on virtually no gun regulations are the same crew who have successfully opposed Biden's attempts to enact progressive safety net and tax reform legislation to make the US a fairer and more equitable place, call it a US"common prosperity light". These include Senator Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, leading the charge to burden-shift taxes away from the rich onto the backs of middle and working class Americans.

For two centuries, it was settled law that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution applied only to state militia, not individuals. But after decades of trying, the fat cats were successful in getting a more conservative US Supreme Court in 2008 to overturn precedents and extend that right to individuals. Experts fear that given the nature of cases before it, the Supreme Court, which is even more conservative today, will further remove restrictions on gun carrying in public, overturning hundreds of years of settled Anglo-American common law precedents.

It is ironic that less than 24 hours before the subway shooting, Biden, doing the best he could in the divided, dysfunctional government, attempted to make a veritable mountain out of a modest molehill in crowing about his efforts, following more than a year of preparation, to bypass the deadlocked Congress and issue executive orders to regulate so-called "ghost guns".

These are usually weapons privately made from kits that can't be traced like normal weapons since they lack identifying information, whose numbers have grown 10-fold in five years to about 20,000 annually. The obvious problem is that this is a mere drop in the ocean, compared with the estimated 390 million guns in the US.

The New York subway shooting will not be the last. And sadly, the latest outrage will be a teachable moment that will be ignored.

So prepare for more needless carnage in the US.

The author is a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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