I’ve loved my visits to the US but I’ll never understand the religious-like committment that many Americans have to their 2nd amendment right to bear arms.
In 2010 I visited Omaha, Nebraska on a work trip where I got an opportunity to mix with gun-toting, Obama-hating, mid-westerners. It’s easy to label people and I may not agree with their politics but they were absolutely lovely people. They couldn’t have been more hospitable.
Being brought up the right way I was a good tourist, respecting their culture and happy to absorb myself in the local customs. I do genuinely enjoy shooting and jumped at the chance when our hosts offered to take us to their local gun club for a shoot. I had to bite my tongue though when they showed me their gun cabinet at home and brought out 9mm and .45mm pistols, as well as an AR–15 assault rifle.
Being able to go to a shooting club and let off a little steam is one thing, walking around ‘packing heat’ or riding in your car with an assault rifle in your boot is entirely another. It’s not 1836 anymore. The west has been tamed. If the mexicans attempt to invade I’m pretty sure the US armed forces and border police can handle it. This conspiracy theory that citizens should bear arms to keep the government at bay is ridiculous. For one thing, I’m pretty confident the government would win – they have much bigger guns.
‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, is the common argument amongs the NRA and other pro-gun lobbies – ignoring the mass of data that shows there’s a clear correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths. Last year guns accounted for 9484 deaths in America, as opposed to 468 for Australia, UK, Germany and Canada combined.
Of course there’s always anomolies. There’s been mass shootings in the UK and the recent massacre in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, both in countries with tough gun-control laws. Some people are just insane and if they want to find ways to commit mass murder they will. That’s no argument for saying gun control doesn’t work though.
The fact is, the data shows that if you have a gun in your home or are around people who owns a gun you’re more likely to be a victom of gun-related violence or accidents. In countries with strict gun-laws there’s less people that have guns and less gun-related violence. It’s not rocket science.
I fully support the right of people to enjoy the sport of shooting but that doesn’t mean you need to keep a gun at home. Go to a licenced shooting club which keeps the guns under lock and key.
Nothing will change after yesterday’s shooting at the Batman opening in Aurora, Colorado. Nothing changed after the Columbine shooting, the Tuscon shooting, or any of the countless other massacres that have took place in America. Certainly nothing will change this year as it’s an election year. Any candidate that tries to bring up such a deeply divisive issue will just get accused of playing politics.
The opinion in Australia regarding gun-control used to be pretty split before the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. The aftermath of that trajedy resulted in strict gun laws and the destruction of 700,000 privately owned firearms. Between 1996 and 2003 the risk of dying by gunshot halved. But that’s Australia, not America. Australia didn’t have the 2nd amendment. As long as 49% of Americans continue to believe that the 2nd amendment is still relevant today nothing will change.