A topic of ‘who is the biggest threat to the United States’ has been quite popular in recent months. However, while most of U.S. military chiefs name Russia and ISIS as the biggest threats to Americans, it is neither one of them.
The truth is: Americans with guns is THE existential threat to other Americans. That’s the dilemma: U.S. officials shouldn’t go too far to see the threat, the threat is within the U.S. borders.
However, let’s analyze why is that that Russia and ISIS are considered the biggest threats to the U.S.
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The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the 59-year-old Marine General Joseph Dunford made quite a stir last month saying that Russia “presents the greatest threat to our national security” due to the fact that it’s a nuclear power.
Dunford was not the only one who expressed such an opinion about Russia.
“I would put the threats to this nation in the following order: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea,” Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, who is likely to become the Vice Chairman, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Is Russia or ISIS the greatest threat to America?
However, a week later, something ‘fresh’ came up in the discussion. Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, nominee to be Marine commandant, agreed with General Dunford’s statements about Russia increasing its forces and thus becoming the “greatest potential threat.”
But General Neller then said: “Although I don’t think they want to fight us. Right now, I don’t think they want to kill Americans,” Neller said at his confirmation hearing. “I think violent extremists want to kill us. And their capacity is not that great but their intent is high…they concern me equally.”
Violent extremists – ISIS – have been making headlines since the summer of 2014. Neller is not the first top chief to point out the growing threats posed by the terrorist network that is operating in some of the most unstable parts of the world.
Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey said that ISIS poses a great threat to Americans by recruiting them through social media. He added that the organization poses greater threat to the United States than al-Qaeda, and that the FBI views ISIS as the No. 1 threat of our time.
“ISIL is not your parents’ al-Qaeda – it’s a very different model,” Comey told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum. “By virtue of that model it’s currently the threat that we’re worrying about in the homeland most of all.”
Americans with guns is the existential threat to U.S.
But why do U.S. top officials ignore the fact that the threat to lives of Americans is on U.S. soil?
Mother Jones, an American magazine featuring investigative and breaking news reporting, tracked mass shootings from 1982 to May of 2014. The magazine counted “at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii.”
Mother Jones also found that the killers had obtained the weapons with which they carried out the mass shootings legally. However, it must be noted that since the analysis was published, other mass shootings took place in the U.S., including in Charleston, South Carolina.
In 2014, the Pew Research Center released survey data in which it studied the demographics of gun ownership.
“Overall, about a third of all Americans with children under 18 at home have a gun in their household, including 34% of families with children younger than 12. That’s nearly identical to the share of childless adults or those with older children who have a firearm at home,” the survey data said.
The research also points out at one paradox. Blacks are more likely to become gun homicide victims than whites, however blacks are only nearly half as likely as whites to have a gun in their home (41 percent against 19 percent). Meanwhile, Hispanics are less likely than blacks to be gun homicide victims and 20 percent less likely than whites to have a gun at their home.
The FBI published a report last year, in which it studied ‘active shooting situations’ in the period from 2000 to 2013. The report concluded that the number of ‘active shooting situations’ was constantly growing. While from 2000 to 2007 there was an average of 6.4 active shootings per year, in the last seven years of the study found that number increased to 16.4 incidents per year.
Homemade guns are affordable and widely available
It was also reported just yesterday by the Australian The Daily Telegraph that lethal homemade guns are being sold for just $100 apiece in backyard armories in Sydney’s western suburbs, according to senior police.
Australian police particularly fear that the weapons that are so cheap and affordable will end up in the hands of school kids.
The problem is also common in the United States, as homemade guns are affordable and widely available to anyone there, including school kids. And the U.S. definitely does not need any more kids carrying guns to their schools and executing mass shootings.
“We know petty criminals are buying these rudimentary made weapons but because they are getting cheaper and cheaper, there is a real concern kids can afford them,’’ said Detective Superintendent Mick Plotecki, head of the NSW Firearms and Organised Crime Squad.
What should the government do about it?
The U.S. government must ensure that the federal law does not allow federally licensed gun sellers from selling guns to people convicted of crimes or with mental illnesses. For example, it recently became known that the Charleston shooter Dylann Roof should not have been able to legally obtain a gun due to his criminal record. The only thing that allowed him to buy the gun was a ‘background check flaw’.
There is a great number of federal agencies that protect Americans from global threats such as Russia and ISIS, but isn’t it more pressing to have a federal agency that would protect Americans from the ‘existential threat’, that is illegally obtained guns?