With terror and war at the forefront of the global news, what do we need to do to tackle, limit, or even stop these attacks? In America, Australia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and the Middle East, the two main concerns seem to centre around the availability of firearms and the issue of mental health.
As clearly shown over the past few weeks in Germany and Northern France and America yet again, there is a new form of terrorism that is emerging, individual terrorism with no affiliation to terrorist groups. Is this an access to weapons issue, a mental health issue, social crisis, or all of these? Depending on where you live the debate can differ, for example, if you live in the United Kingdom or any island countries, terrorist attacks are more difficult for organisations to implement as it is difficult to get foreign fighters or even native fighters, the weapons and ammunition in comparison to the Paris, San Bernardino and the Orlando shooting where terrorists of every type can more readily get their hands on high-powered weapons to kill and maim. Sometimes they can get them legally like in Charlestown and Orlando, and for landlocked countries like Germany and France, firearms can more readily be brought in over borders. So here we have to combat firearms themselves. This is a major problem in the USA as it is such a divisive issue but in Europe, where the majority of countries don’t allow firearms the issue can be resolved. European nations need to use greater military resources to patrol Europe’s borders to stop the importation of assault and heavy weapons systems from North Africa and the Middle East as well as clamp down on weapons already in circulation within Europe.
In America, it is much more difficult as the American people are part of the problem. They need to take a look at themselves and take away the emotional, historical rhetoric of owning guns and look at the problem logically. If weapons had to be kept at ranges and you had to be registered then shootings like in Dallas, Orlando, and the rest wouldn’t happen. Firearms are, in fact, the easiest weapon to clamp down on there as they are quite easy to locate and dispose of. The gun-toting American argues that there wouldn’t be any massacres if everyone had a gun, well they do own guns, and there are massacres, so that doesn’t stand up – just look at the school shootings. These are nothing to do with terrorism in the old view of it, by organised groups, just crazed individuals.
The emergence of the individual ‘terror’ act, or ‘lone wolf terrorism, such as the man who used a lorry to kill eighty people in France, the shootings in clubs, the pressure cooker bombs brings me onto the second point in today’s article, mental health,
Mental Health is an important issue and one that is more openly talked about than ever before., which is a good thing as those who want help and support can get it and not feel stigmatised by it being an issue of the mind rather than the physical body that they need medical help with but when individuals turn to acts of terror then that is a completely different level of mental issues. Why are these few but very damaged people doing this? And this is where I circle back to the question I posed at the start! Is the media creating this attacks by reporting them in such detail, are we victims of our online instant images world? Are these people so isolated, estranged from society that a death that hits the headlines, put them on television is driven by the desire to be remembered? Is all that matters to them, if so why? Is the media coverage causing more attacks can be partly answered by the increased number of individual attacks all over the world, as a comedian once said about fame; if you want to be famous the fastest and easiest way is to just kill someone! Maybe this has some truth in it with deranged individuals being constantly bombarded with negative images on the news and online – so that they begin to believe that their own suffering will be compensated and that they will be remembered if they take others with them.
It is probably unfair to lay all the blame at the door of the media but there is an issue with our highly visual world, and some people who struggle to distinguish between a virtual world and reality and this is exacerbated by the way the media want their own narrative.Maybe if news and social media outlets moved away from making such attacks a frenzy of reporting and deal with reporting it in a sombre and less sensationalist fashion then maybe this will nullify the attackers, by withdrawing the road to infamy.