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press review Swiss media ask what will stop US mass shootings

US flag mourning

A white supremacist gunman massacred 22 people in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas over the weekend.

(Keystone / Mark Lambie)

A spate of tragic shootings in the United States over the weekend has left the Swiss media perplexed and asking – why is the US paralysed when it comes to protecting its citizens? If two deadly shootings in less than 24 hours don’t move the country, what will?

The Swiss media expressed shock at the attacks in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas over the weekend that left more than 30 people dead. Several noted that these were two more mass murders on an “ever-expanding list”.

But while some saw this as the result of fundamental flaws in US society and politics, other papers viewed it as the tragic result of white nationalism and a warning message to Europe.   

A “racial crisis”

TagesAnzeiger Washington correspondent Martin Kilianexternal link reflected on President Trump’s speech to the American public on Monday, equating today’s climate in the US to the racial crisis of the 1960s civil rights period. 

While praising President Trump’s condemnation of racism and bigotry, the German-language paper questioned his authenticity, saying that Trump was finally trying to extinguish a fire he created. “After all, it was Trump who for two years had been providing the ideological guidelines that guided the El Paso shooter,” Kilian writes.

Will this lead Trump to “moderate his tweets?” the paper asks.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitungexternal link found irony in President Trump’s calls to crack down on hate speech on the Internet, writing that Trump himself is “accused of splitting the nation with his Twitter attacks on dissenters and minorities”.

French-language paper LeTempsexternal link called out white supremacy as the new threat that affects countries beyond the US, recalling the 2011 attack in Norway by a white supremacist. The paper writes that the “supremacy ideology has so far remained rather discrete on European soil, hidden behind growing nationalism, among other things.”

Gun law divide

The Swiss media appear perplexed over the lack of political will for greater gun control in the US as well as calls for the death penalty, which Switzerland strongly opposes.

+ Read how Switzerland maintains a strong culture of firearms possession but with fewer mass shootings

The fact that President Trump didn’t mention stricter gun control laws in his speech did not go unnoticed by TagesAnzeiger. Mental illness and violent video games, which the President suggested were to blame, are also common in Europe, the paper noted.

“It is neither lack of piety nor video games that regularly turn the US into a battleground where children and mothers, students, seniors and work colleagues lose their lives, but rather easy access to firearms including assault rifles like the AK-47, and the fact that over 300 million firearms are in circulation,” the paper writesexternal link.

Papers were mixed about whether the tragic events will lead to real changes. The TagesAnzeiger thinks that the deepening American crisis can only be solved if the Republican Party and its president “do the right thing,” which it argues would be renouncing the votes of gun fanatics as well as the National Rifle Association's (NRA) campaign donations.

The NZZ was equally doubtful of change, pointing to strong gun lobby support for the Republican party. But as the race for president gears up, the Democrats are unlikely to let the topic go away anytime soon.


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