Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK!

Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK

In the US, where I have lived for 13 years, mass shootings are commonplace, in the neighborhood where I currently live in Wichita, Kansas, I hear gunshots ring out 2 to 3 times each week. But to hear the breaking news on Thursday, that there had been a mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, in the southwest of the UK was shocking to me, because the UK does not have a gun culture like the US.

Thankfully, none of my Plymouth-based friends have been harmed in the incident where five people have died as a result of the shooter, whose motive seems to be because he was an incel, i.e. involuntarily celibate. An idealogy that women are to blame for their inability to form relations and have a sex life.

The five victims were, first, the shooter’s mother, Maxine Davison, age 51, who on social media he had labeled “vile, dysfunctional and chaotic”, followed by father and daughter, Lee Martyn, age 43, and Sophie Martyn, age 3. The final two victims were Stephen Washington, age 59, and Kate Shepherd, age 66. The sad thing is that the final four victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a parent myself, the murder of a 3-year-old is heartbreaking, even more so, when the shooters’ actions were due to not being able to get someone to have sex with him, a senseless reason for the death of five people.

Clearly, there were mental health issues, most people who are 22-year-old virgins don’t go on a murderous rampage. A Daily Beast article, reports the shooter was denied help, with the NHS using their lack of staff as a reason to not treat the shooter, and local Devon & Cornwall Police failed to do a welfare check, at the family’s request. Clearly, there were failures, we cannot use mental health as a scapegoat, it was a failure of the system, a failure that could have saved six lives, including the shooters.

Compared to the US, the UK has tight gun laws, where handguns are outright banned, and shotguns and rifles are strictly regulated, where a person needs to have a specific reason for owning a firearm, such as for sports or work-related reasons, followed by many other background checks including talking to the applicants’ doctors, family and friends, looking for red flags, clearly this failed on this occasion.

In the days after the shooting, it has been revealed that the shooter had his gun license revoked in December 2020, after he was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a local skate park, only to have his gun license reinstated in July 2021 by D&C Police. I hope a full investigation is forthcoming and changes made to the system to stop this from happening again in the future. Shootings are rare in the UK, but clearly, the system failed at some point, we need to identify and fix the procedure that failed.

Devon & Cornwall Police have said that it was not terror-related, but others have suggested that a reevaluation of what is considered terrorism is needed, due to the increasing number of violent attacks around the world by self-identified Incels, a group of people, whose politics often lean right, and are misogynists, believing that women owed them sex, a clear mental health disorder in my view.

As I eluded to in my opening paragraph, mass shootings in the US are so common that unless 10 or more people are killed, it doesn’t get reported by the national media. We are so desensitized to gun deaths that unless a dozen people are killed, it’s just part of life in the USA, and we accept it as an everyday occurrence. The shooting in Plymouth is so shocking as I don’t remember a single shooting in my 45 years in my hometown. My thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims of this senseless crime.

One thought on “Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK!

  • James
    August 19, 2021 at 18:36

    A well written post Jason. It is a little over a week since the incident and I am still in shock. On my way to a medical appointment today I noticed the flower tributes near the scene have still not completely stopped and are piling up. It was cereal to travel through the district of Keyham, which I have done thousands of times previously.

    Clearly the system has failed on this occasion. The inquest will need to establish why this guy, an apprentice crane operator was given a firearms licence and why the licence was returned after suspect criminal behaviour and mental wellbeing. Gun laws are thankfully quite strict, but perhaps it needs tightening further, no doubt they will be shortly after the inquest. The USA would do well to learn from how the UK deal with this and previous incidents involving firearms.

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