Gun lobby US wants more firearms, despite record number of mass shootings Conservative America feels strengthened in its opposition to a ban on firearms, precisely because of the increasing number of deaths from gun violence.

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Visitor Rachel (7) at the annual NRA gun convention, this year in Indianapolis
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  • Thijs Jan van Aalst

    editor Bureau Washington

The only way to stop the increase in gun violence in the US is to give citizens more guns. That’s the main message at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention, held this year in Indianapolis. Prominent conservative politicians made it clear that Americans must arm themselves en masse to fight the largest wave of mass shootings in the country’s history. That’s the only way to stop shooters.

Former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and many others spoke on Friday. And all of them targeted the Biden administration’s intention to make it harder for certain people to buy guns. Or as Trump put it: “They want to take your guns, as they open the prison doors to release bloodthirsty criminals into your neighborhoods.”

The support of all these politicians, including four presidential candidates, shows the perceived influence of the NRA and their gun lobby. And despite accusations of corruption and declining membership, the organization still receives tens of millions in donations from members and businesses each year.

Large American firearms manufacturers, such as Smith & Wesson, Colt and Ruger, are also part of the ‘Friends of the NRA’ sponsorship club. According to a December report, the organization had 167 million euros in revenue in the first eleven months of last year.

Bloodiest spring ever

Conservative America feels bolstered in its opposition to a gun ban amid rising gun deaths. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 214 people have been killed in 155 mass shootings in the US this year alone, the bloodiest spring in a decade. Those are shootings in which at least four people are injured or killed, not counting the shooter. For the past three years, the number of mass shootings has consistently exceeded 600, almost two per day.

The fear of ever coming face to face with a gunman is great among Americans. And that is why they increasingly prepare themselves by following special courses: Active Shooter Training. Former police officer Dave Hopp gives this kind of training, preparing people for everything that comes with a shooting: “I teach you how to run, hide and fight. From overpowering a gunman to applying an emergency bandage.”

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    Dave Hopp
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    Hopp also provides first aid instruction
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    Instructions for handling different types of firearms
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    Hopp pulls out the first aid kits
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    First aid kit including emergency dressings

Hopp sees that the fear of a shooting has permeated all parts of society: “I’m everywhere, from primary schools to retirement homes. You always see the demand increase after a shooting has been in the news, for example after Nashville.” Six people, including three children, were killed in that shooting at a Christian private school at the end of March. The shooter was shot dead by police after nearly fifteen minutes.

Those first minutes are essential for your chances of survival, explains Hopp: “My company is called Resist10, because you are on your own for the first ten minutes of a shooting. So you have to be able to take action yourself. That’s why we practice all kinds of scenarios in the places where I go by.”

We’ve been doing school fire drills for decades, so why not hold a shooting drill?

Dave Hopp, Active Shooter Training Instructor

With an arsenal of fake weapons and camouflage clothing, he walks into a room where the students are during exercises. It is then up to them to dive on top of him and take his weapon. The way he does these exercises differs per audience, he says: “With school students you really have to teach them that things that are usually not allowed are suddenly allowed. Block the door with a table, use a school trophy as a weapon.”

The explosion in popularity of these courses also attracts instructors who are less knowledgeable, says Hopp: “It’s hard to control this industry because the demand is growing so fast. You can’t learn these skills from a textbook, every situation is different. “

According to him, whether mass shootings can be prevented in the future with stricter legislation does not matter: “Legislation or not, you will never get the US free of guns again. So you have to learn to live with that fact and prepare yourself. We have been doing dozens of years of school fire drills, so why not hold drills for a shooting?”

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