Gun violence in America has been a serious problem for decades. A few years ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray declared Domestic Terrorism as the greatest danger to the American people. How do potential tourists see this when considering a visit to the United States?
Let’s look at how one informed American views this growing problem. I have written dozens of articles exposing the reality of guns and their relationship to the safety of the American people for about 10 years. Over that period of time, I have witnessed mass shootings in our schools, churches, and malls. Supermarkets, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, concert arenas, and gyms. No place is safe in the 21st century.
America’s tourist industry experiences revenue in the billions of dollars each year. During the Trump administration, it declined dramatically. It was estimated that Trump cost cities, venues, restaurants, bars, souvenir vendors, and transportation companies about 40 billion dollars each year.
In an average year, gun violence in America kills 40,000 people, wounds twice as many, and has an economic consequence to our nation of $557 billion.
The tourism industry remains in recovery. Trump’s xenophobia and leadership of the white supremacy movement in America caused thousands of cancellations from potential tourists around the world. Travel News asked Brand USA’s President and CEO, Christopher L Thompson, to express his concerns about the increase in gun violence and its effect on the industry.
“Of course, these issues do influence the impression tourists have of their own personal safety and feeling safe in our country but that is something we are discussing with the US Government and relevant stakeholders right now.”
Grant Harris, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis, stepped in to comment. “We are very aware of the negativity that such events create and how that impacts tourism in America. People should feel safe when they come here. The Federal Government is addressing the matter with many stakeholders.”
The truth is simple, no one in America is bulletproof. No place in America is immune to the threat of gun violence. If our own citizens are not safe, how can we expect visitors to our nation to feel secure?
President Biden is proposing a ban on assault rifles, raising the age for the purchase of all deadly weapons from 18 to 21, and other requirements, including mandatory and comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases. However, it may be too little, too late. No one knows how many military assault rifles have been sold, legally or illegally, over the last decade. There is no record of how many guns have been sold online or at “gun shows.” I assume there are thousands of guns in America that remain uncounted.
What we do know is that about 90 percent of all weapons of mass destruction are owned by about 10 percent of our nation’s people. We also know that although there are limitations on the purchase of handguns, anyone 18 years or older can walk into a gun store and leave with a rifle, including a military-style weapon whose only purpose is to kill as many human beings as possible in the shortest period of time.
Unfortunately, half of our government is dependent on money from the NRA gun lobby, which is employed by gun manufacturers and gun sellers. Profit before people remains their motto.
“The average annual cost for overall gun violence in the United States is $1,698 for every resident in the country.”
By James Turnage, Novelist
Southern Africa’s Travel News: Gun crime could cool US tourism recovery; by Rachael Penaluna
Everytown Research & Policy: The Economic Cost of Gun Violence