Texas massacre reminds me why I’d rather live in Italy
Has Donald Trump stopped dancing on the graves of 19 schoolchildren? Has the National Rifle Association finally ended its convention where the Big Cheeto ended his speech with his signature jig?
I think so. Didn’t I hear a 21-gun salute at the end Sunday? It wasn’t for the 19 children and two adults killed in the worst school shooting in U.S. history (and that’s saying something) just five days earlier and 300 miles away. It was aimed at Americans with the audacity to want changes in gun laws that make attending school in the U.S. like prowling gang territory in El Salvador.
I’ve lived in Rome for nearly 8 ½ years, and I’m stunned at how the U.S. is crumbling from afar. Cops murdering unarmed Blacks. Most Covid deaths in the world. Trump supporters attacking the capitol based on his unhinged lies about election “fraud.”
Now we have an 18-year-old buying two semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and blowing away 19 kids aged 9-11 and two adults in Uvalde, Texas. He bought them legally – which is his “CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT!” This comes eight days after 13 were killed in a store in Buffalo, N.,Y., and seven days after a man locked the doors of a church in Laguna Woods, Calif., and killed one and injured five. If you’re scoring at home, use a pencil. Another mass shooting is due soon.
Every day in Italy I’m reminded why I retired here. Best food in the world. Incredible scenery. Friendly people. The Uvalde shooting May 24 reminded me again of another reason.
It’s safe. It has responsible, restrictive gun laws. It’s never had a mass school shooting. Ever. Not one.
In fact, the only mass shooting in Italy since 1985 came in 2018 when a racist-inspired drive-by targeted a group of African immigrants in Macerata in the Marche region. Number of dead: zero.
I blogged on this topic five years ago after that Las Vegas gunman hauled enough guns to arm Honduras into his hotel room and murdered 58 people. I wrote that Italy’s more restrictive gun laws have led to fewer gun deaths.
It’s time for an update. First, a review:
To own a gun in Italy, where there are 8 million registered compared to the United States’ 400 million, one must:
- Apply for a license.
- Take a firearms safety course and receive a certificate from a shooting range stating you can safely use the gun.
- Not have a criminal record.
- Have a physician’s signed certificate saying you don’t suffer from drug addiction or mental health issues. The same goes for gifted guns.
- Register with the local police station within 72 hours after the purchase. The gun seller must notify the police of the sale also within 72 hours.
- To carry a gun outside the home one must have a hunting or sporting license and the gun can be with you only if you’re going to hunt or to the range.
In Italy, you can not:
- Buy a semi-automatic weapon.
- Have more than three “common” guns, considered usually hand guns.
- Carry a concealed weapon unless you prove your work puts you at risk, and this rare license must be renewed every year.
Italian gun laws go beyond this. I’ve read of gun owners who threatened others and were reported to the Carabinieri. The police confiscated their guns. They had to wait a year to have them returned.
The end result is a society where gun deaths still make headlines. According to the World Population Review, Italy this year has had 1.31 gun deaths per 100,000 population. The U.S. has had 12.21, among the 10 highest in the world.
Gun deaths (including suicide) per 100,000 people 2022:
- Honduras 60.0
- Venezuela 49.2
- El Salvador 45.6
- Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) 37.2
- Guatemala 34.1
- Jamaica 30.7
- Brazil 21.9
- Colombia 18.7
- Panama 15.1
- United States 12.2
In 2014, Italy had 475 gun deaths; the U.S., according to CityData.com, had 33,169. In 2017 guns caused a record 39,773 deaths in the U.S., including 24,000 by suicide, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2020, the U.S. total figure jumped to 45,222.
What will U.S. do?
So what is the U.S. plan? Do they look to Italy’s gun laws or ban semi-automatic weapons or require background checks? No.
Let’s arm the schools.
Trump, to his credit, did repeat the names of all 21 Texas victims during a moment of silence Friday. But then he and his fawning Texas congressman, Ted Cruz, laid out an idea right out of a bad sci-fi flick about alien invasion: Close every door but one in every school and assign an armed law enforcement officer at that door. No one gets in or out without his or her approval.
Yep. That’ll go over well with the local fire marshall. Instead of dying by gunfire, the kids can just die by fire.
Then I saw Texas governor Greg Abbott at the post-massacre press conference following his state’s fourth mass shooting since 2017 say, “It could’ve been worse.”
Meanwhile, a local Uvalde County politician mimed the Republican Party’s mantra of “This isn’t the time to talk about gun laws.” Instead he said, “It’s time for the whole country to come together.”
And do what? Sing “Kumbala”? That will do about as much good as thoughts and prayers which, for the record, my Christian right lunatics, have never brought a single gun victim back to life. Nor, I imagine, have they been much solace to the dead’s family.
Instead, they talk about building mental health facilities like the Uvalde County Mental Health Clinic — right next to the Uvalde school. It’s a fallback for all U.S. gun nuts. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Or, in Uvalde’s case, guns don’t kill kids. Kids kill kids.
Do they think the U.S. has cornered the world market on mental illness? Rome’s Lazio region alone has 20 psychiatric hospitals. No one around here is selling those patients guns.
Still, if the U.S. far right admits that mental illness is a cause for the United States’ high gun death rate, why do they make it so easy for said nut jobs to walk in and buy a gun as if it’s a hammer at Home Depot?
NRA and far right
Here’s why: The National Rifle Association, despite reports of financial hardship last year, still spent a record $2 million in the second quarter of 2021 lobbying the Biden Administration and Congress on gun reform bills.
The far right also say if you outlaw guns, mass murderers can always find them on the black market. True. The U.S. has 400 million guns. That’s more than one per person and up from 300 million just five years ago. Fine. Let’s at least force them into a little research and networking without throwing the doors open to them from the approximately 2,000-5,000 gun shows in the U.S. every year.
And yes, tougher gun laws do lower gun violence. According to The New York Times, countries that passed harsher gun laws after mass shootings include the United Kingdom (1987 and 1996), Canada (1989), Australia (1996), Germany (202), New Zealand (2019) and Norway (2021). All saw the number of mass shootings plummet. Australia’s has gone from one in 18 months to one in 26 years.
The sanest law they could make is simply outlaw semi-automatic weapons. The gun activists fear the government wants to take their guns away. Not one president or knee-jerk liberal Democrat has ever said they will confiscate guns from homes. However, semi-automatic weapons aren’t designed for home protection. They’re not designed for hunting quail.
They’re designed for slaughtering people.
I am 66 years old. I have yet to hear of any American defending their home with a gun. There is some anecdotal evidence. But until they come up with 45,222 examples, the number killed by guns two years ago, they can go clean their gun barrel.
Besides, you can defend your home without a gun. On my wall in Denver I had a Gurkha knife used by the Nepalese guerilla unit the British military employed. The knife can’t massacre 21 people in a few minutes but it can cut a throat like a ripe grapefruit. It takes real courage to drive a knife into another man’s flesh. Any coward can pull a trigger.
Just look at the NRA.
America’s far right are people who care more about a fetus than a 10-year-old student, more about rising gas prices than the well-being of shelled Ukrainians. They wrap the U.S. flag and Constitution around their eyes so they don’t see the carnage around them.
With every day that passes, with every mass shooting making headlines in Europe, I’m more grateful I live in Italy instead of the U.S. I don’t want to visit the U.S., let alone live. Italy is where common sense prevails over two-centuries-old Constitutions. Italy is where men don’t need a gun to be men.
But I’m willing to give the U.S. some advice. Here is what should be required to buy a gun:
- They must attend a counseling session.
- Must wait at least 24 hours after the session to purchase a gun.
- Told how death by gunshot occurs.
- Described the pain of a shooting victim.
- Warned of the risks involved in shooting guns.
- Warned of the possible psychological problems after killing someone.
- Walk past a gauntlet of protesters screaming at you for your decision.
You know, the same requirements many states require for an abortion.
May 31, 2022 @ 11:21 am
It is hard to say and hard to hear, but law enforcement officers have explicitly commented in the last few days about the destruction of the human body which assault weapons are designed to inflict. It is for this reason that Uvalde parents were required to give DNS samples to identify their children. Who can hear this and not call for gun ownership reform?
A well-regulated militia attacked an elementary school last week, killing 19 students and two adults. If you want to argue it was not a well-regulated militia that attacked the school, but instead an individual, then you already understand the difference between what the Constitution says and what some people want it to say.
And, this: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/102574603/record-searchlight/#. Editorial by Warren Burger asserting that the Second Amendment was not intended to confer the right of every person to be armed with a machine gun (much less an AR15).
May 31, 2022 @ 12:38 pm
Trump is not the president, this happened under Biden’s watch. Surely if Biden can flood Europe with lethal weapons at the stroke of a pen then presumably he can force through gun control. The problem with the USA is that it commodifies everything from politics to religion. Not anti-USA but despair at the geopolitical and cultural influence the US holds over Europe.
May 31, 2022 @ 2:05 pm
Wow! So you do realize that your buddy Biden is the President and he has done NOTHING to push gun control, even with the Pulosi/Bernie Democrats having a majority in both houses of Congress. The good news is that you are likely to stay in Italy and not add to the Leftest Crazies that are already in America. I am a huge fan of Italy and will continue to travel there in the future, but I do believe that they have been on the wrong side of history in at least 2 World Wars and may or may not have had to assassinate their own President/Dictator, so back it down a notch. Let’s not even mention the murderous Mafia that has ruled Italy over the last century. That may have something to do with the strict gun laws. Talk about being blind to the simple facts! Bless your heart!
May 31, 2022 @ 4:56 pm
At least two World Wars? So you’re including the one where Italy was an ally of the U.S., the U.K., France, et al., as well as the one where the country overthrew its dictator during the war? I don’t think anyone would claim Italy is without defects and it’s true organized crime gangs are violent. But mob deaths are obviously included in the total — Italian gangsters are violent but not as bad the school shooter constituency in the states.
May 31, 2022 @ 8:05 pm
Uhh, yes, 2 World Wars. Granted, Italy did change sides after a year or so in WWI. They like picking the potential winners. In WWII, The leaders of Italy decided that Hilter was a good option to hitch itself to and it took them 4 years to eventually kick Mussolini out and then shoot him. Better late than never I suppose!
So, you think that Italian mobsters aren’t nearly as bad as school shooters? I’d prefer that neither exist, but that’s just me.
May 31, 2022 @ 2:55 pm
Leftist crazies? How is Biden supposed to try and even pass anything when there are literally GOP members of Congress who pose for pictures with their children armed with the military-style assault weapons used time and time again by these mass shooters? Sorry, but what’s so crazy about a total ban on assault weapons? Unless you are in the military or police there is ZERO reason for the average American to be able to purchase one of these with the same ease as they’d purchase a lottery ticket.
Nice try trying to bash John and his new adopted country. You can’t even compare Mafia killings with the types of mass killings that happen here now on a weekly basis – in schools, colleges, grocery stores, churches, movie theaters, shopping malls, concerts, and the list grows daily. My best friend who grew up in Florida with me and is married to an Italian lives in Rome. Her 12 year old daughter repeatedly asks her what in the hell is wrong with America that this happens so frequently in schools. Besides being unspeakably tragic for every person who has senselessly lost a loved one (especially an innocent child) to gun violence, it places an ugly global stain on the US as a country.
Time and time again, our so-called leadership has failed to address this problem. ALL of them. After Sandy Hook I thought finally something would be done. But again, I have lost all hope and expect NADA to be done once again. Votes and money are more important than human lives to these miscreants we keep electing to do the right thing. I may need to follow John’s path and retire to Italy as my heart and soul cannot continue to be a witness to the ongoing insanity knowing nothing will ever be done about it.
June 1, 2022 @ 1:13 am
Yeah, leftist crazies. “Has Donald Trump stopped dancing on the graves of 19 school children?” Is this the comment of a rational, sane, and sensible person? Calling people with mental illness – “nut jobs”?? As you actually mentioned, instead of recognizing and acknowledging that NEITHER party has done anything regarding gun control, he comes off as simply unhinged. Throw in the fetus comment and John simply comes off as an a$$hole. And yes, you certainly can compare mafia killings! Person(s) with guns (automatic or semi-automatic) killing innocent people. Seems fairly similar. And the Italian government’s attempt to crack down on mass killings by greatly restricting access to guns seems like a logical solution. Reasonable people can agree or disagree on how to solve the problem, and moving to another country without the current issues is certainly an option.
June 1, 2022 @ 3:44 am
You amuse me. You symbolize exactly the problem that we have with gun control, but like many of your ilk are incapable or intolerant of seeing the other side. No one is proposing the guns should not be allowed in this country, including John. The proposition is pretty simple – there is no reason for gun that is not meant for hunting or self-protection. If you were honest with yourself you would realize one party has tried to move gun control forward, and the other has not. You’re welcome to continue to live in your bubble, but you should recognize your bubble is flawed and eventually will pop.
All countries have problems, however mass shootings of school children are not the norm in the developed world. Oh, and while your protecting your right to cause massive damage to large groups of people, can you please keep your hands off deciding what I should do with my body? I figure if you can commit mass slayings, I should have a choice whether or not to carry a pregnancy. Have a great night 🙂
June 1, 2022 @ 5:13 am
I’m glad that I was able to provide you some amusement. The small-minded do tend to be easily amused. You know nothing about me to be able to know my “ilk”. Absolutely nowhere in my reply did I mention that there should not be any gun control, which obviously there should be some type. Take a look at my other comments regarding the unhinged among your ilk. Oh, and by the way, it matters absolutely zero to me what you do with your body. What an arrogant thing to say!
Have a pleasant tomorrow.
May 31, 2022 @ 3:17 pm
Get that fetus an AR-15!
May 31, 2022 @ 5:12 pm
Well said; thanks for saying it. It is such complete nonsense to care more about a zygote than the lives of thousands of fully formed human beings, including children, their lives cut short by gun violence. I will never understand it.
Mary C. Theisen
May 31, 2022 @ 6:21 pm
The most recent massacre of children and teachers has pushed me and my husband over the edge. We are now planning to move to Italy in 2023 or 2024. . The only question is where.
June 1, 2022 @ 4:24 pm
[Christian right lunatics] When thou shalt not kill is branded the stuff of lunatics, do not be surprised at the outcomes. Please do not bring your cultural baggage to Europe should you decide to flee the USofA.
June 3, 2022 @ 10:55 am
Data from The Washington Post shows that 23 “unarmed” black suspects were fatally shot by the police in 2018, while even fewer, 12, were shot in 2019.
Much less then the media–looking at you Mr. Henderson–would have us believe.
As an American whose moved to Venice I love this blog. Thank you.
June 3, 2022 @ 11:56 am
Thank you for this heartfelt post, John. We are recently transplanted to Italy leaving two sons and 5 grandchildren behind in the USA. The grandkids are all school age. After this massacre, I called my sons who lives in NC to see how they were. My youngest was in a panic, outraged, distraught. He recounted to me how his 8 year old daughter’s third grade teacher sat the class down to talk about the Texas massacre. It was a tear filled conversation, to say the least, which ended with “please mom, stay in Italy. Make way for us.” I will.
October 4, 2022 @ 4:59 am
Sadly the author is a total tool. Cherry picking data does not lead to a balanced unbiased debate. The US is way down the global list on firearms fatalities per 100,000. A bench mark number established by many statistical analysis, not just firearms fatalities. Also claiming an unproved negative to support an argument does nothing. Many crimes of violence have been thwarted by the legal use of firearms against the illegal use of force by one person againstanother. Most importantly the US Constitution has an inalienable bill of rights, the second of which pertains to keeping and bearing of weapons, including firearms by the civilian population. And is one of two places in the Constitution that carries the weight of “shall not be infringed.” World history is replete with endless examples of people being destroyed by their own governments once those same governments have disarmed the populace. Dear author please do remain in Italy. I’d be happy to buy you a coffee on one of my visits.