Like most other Americans, I watched the news coverage of the horrific killing spree in Connecticut with an overwhelming sense of grief, loss, and anger. Once again, a mentally unstable person got his hands on some serious firepower, and unleashed his inner madness on innocent children with a deadly rain of bullets. This is not the first time that a shooting spree has left numerous people dead. From Littleton, CO to the Aurora movie theatre, to an elementary school, our recent history is littered with bodies and empty shell casings.
As expected, the discussions of gun control popped up like weeds on a freshly buried grave. As expected, the NRA (essentially a lobbying arm for the gun industry) is pulling out its tired cliches about people, not guns being the problem. The notion that "guns don't kill people, that people do" is absurd. It's people with guns that kill people, and quite easily and efficiently, depending on the gun. The problem isn't either half of the equation individually, it's the combination of the two. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns". This is not exactly true - most gun deaths are not committed by outlaws. Not until the trigger is pulled anyway.
Even worse, once again those who support gun rights over everything else are saying that teachers should be armed, or at least there should be armed guards at every school. To what end? Following this to its logical conclusion, it would mean armed guards on every street corner. Our country will become a prison, and we the inmates. The 2nd Amendment was originally proposed as a hedge against hegemony within our borders. It's ironic, then, that those who consider that amendment to be the most important are proposing a solution which contradicts it's intent. In an effort to protect a "right" that ostensibly prevents a police state, they are proposing a scenario which is exactly that.
We are constantly told that guns are the solution to our problems, not the cause of them. From our youth, we are fed stories, images, and movies about how the wild west was won via shootouts on dusty streets. We see movies about gangsters and watch the news every night about yet more crime, and decide that being ready to shoot at a moment's notice is our only guarantee of safety. We see videos of people "blowing shit up" with machine guns and think of them as toys.
We as Americans have a romantic attachment to guns. We see them as being a vital thread that weaves through our history from colonial times to modern day. Other "civilized" countries don't have this mindset, and very likely as a result, other countries don't have so many deaths, either in total
, or as a percentage of population
. Other "civilized" countries don't have armed guards at schools because it isn't necessary. Dangerous firepower simply isn't allowed.
Other countries also have better health care - especially mental health care - so the chances of a mentally ill person deciding that the solution to their pain is to get a gun and start blasting is next to nil.
Our country is rather young in comparison to others in Europe and around the world, and though we've experienced some devastation (the Civil War), we have not suffered utter devastation and rebuilt from scratch. We are still the impudent child on the world stage, determined to have it our way, even when shown that better ways exist. Other countries have grown up and moved on, understanding that proper mental and physical health care for its citizens makes for a happier better-adjusted country, and understanding that romanticizing guns and allowing military-grade weapons to be owned by citizens is counter-productive to that well-being.
It's time we grew up, and put away our romantic notions. It's time we stop romancing the gun.