In America your right to harm people supersedes the right of your victims to receive medical treatment thereafter. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about the state of affairs in the US, but I will nevertheless go on about it here at some length because of course I will.
In a few days the conversation will switch to whatever new and uniquely inappropriate thing Trump has said and/or done and the unconscionable act of domestic terrorism in Las Vegas will join the myriad events that preceded it at the bottom of nobody’s to-do list.
In the mean time everyone has an opinion (no, the irony is not lost on me) and you can sense the Facebook ad-driven revenue stream has accelerated into a raging torrent in the wake of what would be a tragedy if it wasn’t entirely expected, broadly avoidable, and indicative of modern day America.
Gun sales will surge too – as they always do after a shooting like this – because feeling powerless and scared is unbearable so people rush out to purchase “peace of mind.” Again, this would be merely laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that if more guns made us safer the US would already be the safest place on earth. Yeah, not so much.
The politicians won’t pass any meaningful reforms because they can’t, not merely because their proposals would fail but because they would be crushed by someone more friendly to the interests of the gun lobby in the very next election cycle. Doesn’t matter who either. Any blonde, white, blue-eyed, star-spangled, God-fearing, bible-thumping, “plain-spoken” moron would do. He’d win in a landslide.
Americans are in a (self)abusive relationship with guns and – like real victims of abusive relationships – can’t even imagine a way out. The trite and meaningless question “what will it take?” is trotted out at times like these but the answer is the same as asking a religious person what it would take to change their mind; the answer is nothing. With people like that no amount of statistics, reason, or pleas to their humanity will make them suddenly realize they are wrong. They just dig their heels into the dirt, their fingers into their ears, and shout “THE 2ND AMENDMENT IS AN AMERICAN RIGHT!” as they draw their line in the sand. These people are not dissuaded nor discouraged by the word “amendment” in that sentence, and they are not encouraged to think too hard about it either, even if the irony doesn’t go well over their heads. They love guns. Just love ‘em! And they won’t let go.
For the rest of us – especially us heathen foreigners – all of this is like a sick joke. A self-perpetuating system built on the backs of ignorance, patriotism, and an elaborate false narrative which plays to our most self-aggrandizing empowerment fantasies.
I have nothing new to say here for anyone well-read enough to make it this far down the page, but I hope that one more voice in open opposition of the dysfunctional American approach to guns and systemic violence helps demonstrate the pervasiveness of this position. You are not alone.
In fact, most civilized countries have massively curtailed citizens’ rights to bear arms. As it turns out guns are lethal and people are fickle. The two make poor bedfellows.
Pandora’s box was opened long ago but most countries have figured out a simple truth: the best way to curtail gun violence is to not have a gun culture. The best way to not have a gun culture is for people to not have – or covet – guns. Yet, therein lies the problem; the culture does not change with the laws. To influence the Zeitgeist takes time. Generations. Banning guns overnight will not do that. Pricing bullets at $5,000 each (as famously suggested by comedian Chris Rock) will not do that. We have only time on our side. Despite the thrashing against it by the intellectually inferior so fiercely proud of their ignorance, there are people hard at work trying to drag humanity forward. We have not eradicated slavery, but we accept it as wrong. We have not overcome racism and prejudice, but black people can vote. We have not gotten rid of religion, but atheists are now a larger minority than both previous groups combined. Slowly, inexorably, we move forward as a species and despite my bleak outlook on the future, should we survive in spite of ourselves, we will eventually put all that nonsense behind us, guns included.
(I find it infinitely more likely we won’t last that long, but time – in that sense – really does heal all wounds.)
So, with that I leave you with some links to peruse at your leisure – all poignant – which I hope you find valuable.
Statistics on gun violence in the US:
Similar statistics for Japan:
Chris Rock’s stand-up routine on guns:
Jim Jeffries’ legendary stand-up routine on guns (short version – heavily redacted – I recommend the full hour):