It has not been possible for the United States to pass gun control laws to prevent mentally unstable individuals from getting access to guns because of a minority which wants access to them, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (Feb 18), he commented on a recent shooting at a high school in Florida.
He said that there have been eight reported school shootings that resulted in deaths and injuries in the US in the first seven weeks of this year. There have also been at least 30 mass shootings during the same period.
He said: “More Americans have died from gunshots in the last 50 years than in all of the wars in American history.”
“A great country that cannot protect its most innocent – young children in school.”
He wrote that while the majority of Americans want gun control, passing gun control laws there to prevent mentally unstable persons from accessing guns has not been possible.
He said: “This is democracy American style – those who want free access to guns (though a minority) are better organised, they channel money to congressmen, other influential persons.
“They thus have had more power than the majority – so far. They can block any legislation that seeks to control people from buying assault rifles.”
Last Wednesday (Feb 14), Nikolas Cruz, 19, gunned down 17 people at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
He is being held without bail and has yet to enter a plea but his court-appointed lawyer defended him by calling him a “broken human being”.
Cruz was a former student of the school and had been expelled for “behavioural reasons”, according to the police.
Mr Shanmugam said that it is wrong to blame mental health, adding that there are people with such issues in every country including Singapore.
“America is not alone in having such people,” he wrote.
He shared that he has had mentally unstable people come to his Meet-The-People sessions who are “full of anger, wanting to hit out at someone”. There was an occasion when one person climbed a parapet and wanted to jump, he said.
Mr Shanmugam said: “We assist them, where possible, to get medical help. If they had access to assault rifles, which can mow down dozens in a minute, I can imagine what might happen.”