It is so very sad that we once again see another massacre somewhere in the world by an armed gunman shooting, killing and maiming innocent people; with this closely followed by yet another shooting on the day of mourning of the first.
As a result of this latest attack, this time on children, we once again hear some members of the public and some politicians in America talking about gun control. However the gun lobby in America (National Riffle Association – NRA) is extremely powerful, and I believe that it has been involved in toppling parliamentary candidates and governments in the past.
I have been listening to conversations and debates over the years regarding guns and weapons, and have been constantly amazed at the statements that I have heard by gun owners and lobbyists.
It continues to astound me that so many people love their guns; even when faced with such atrocities. I guess in Australia we have been fairly well protected from this. In recent decades (most recently after a massacre of our own in Tasmania) we have had tighter gun controls introduced, and since then we have become a little distanced from the volume of killings that occur in some other parts of the world, like America, with guns.
I thought I would quote the following from the ABC which I found rather disturbing.
Over the last three decades the US has had 62 mass shooting incidents since 1982. The vast majority of weapons used have been semi-automatic weapons obtained legally by the killers.
There were an estimated 310 million non-military firearms in the United States in 2009, roughly one per citizen, and people in America are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than someone in another developed country.
What astounds me are the claims of the gun lobby in America on this occasion. I believe that they are suggesting that America should have a register of the mentally ill, presumably because, in their minds, only the mentally ill would massacre lots of kids. While being mentally ill might contribute in some instances, we only need to look at the massacre in Norway in 2011. In the trial that was held following, Anders Behring Breivik (the gunman) was found to be sane.
Lets start off with this scenario. A teenager has a bad day, gets drunk (as they seem to do these days) has an argument with their peers, decides that he/she now hates their peers, grabs a gun (from their fathers locker) and shoots all of their peers. Was the teenager mentally ill? Did the booze make him/her do it? Or was it the anger of the moment?
How is a register of the mentally ill going to stop this sort of massacre? You just have to read some of the reports of the court hearings in the Norway case to realise that extremists can get hold of weapons and go on a rampage.
The NRA’s answer to this is that there needs to be more guns as: “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun”. My response to this sort of idiocy is to say that if the bad guy didn’t have a bloody gun in the first place THERE WOULD BE NO BLOODY MASSACRE – you imbeciles!!!
Such is the power of the gun lobby that they can wield such a huge influence over parliament and politicians – and many people in the public domain.
I have had some peers tell me over the years that “guns don’t kill, people kill” well I have to say that while on the surface this is true, it is also misguided. The person doesn’t kill on their own, but requires a weapon, the bigger the weapon, or the more lethal, the more damage that can be done.
If one were to lose control of their mind, whether permanently or temporarily, and decide they want to harm a group of people, having a mass killing device such as an automatic or semi-automatic gun is going to be far more harmful than a knife for instance.
Knives can kill one person at a time, and the killer has to be beside the victim in order to inflict harm. The victim could also fight off the perpetrator and possibly escape. A gun can be used at a distance and in minutes can kill dozens of people, as has been seen countless times.
I guess any object can be a weapon, a walking stick or even a pillow could be, but the difference here is that perhaps a gun could be seen as a weapon of mass destruction.
One thing that the NRA said that I did agree with, was that our society has become normalised to violence, due to the movies and video games that we now entertain ourselves with – huge amounts of this with guns.
If we watch many movies that are produced these days you will see guns and violence. Many video games that I have seen advertised are extremely violent, and very involving for the player. The problem with this level of involvement in any sort of game or movie, is that it trains the mind to act in violent ways. My understanding is that repetition of actions (in this case repetition of violent involvement) forms pathways in our brain that causes us to more quickly, or likely, respond in that way. But my agreement with the gun lobby is this point only.
We also have to address our war mongering, and the celebration of wars and victory. Wars are caused by the ideology of governments. The only outcome of war is lots of death. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t defend ourselves against another country’s attack, but sometimes other countries attack because of our own actions, or threats. Until we address our own attitudes, often driven by our own greed, selfishness or aggressive foreign policy, we aren’t going to be able to live together.
With all of our so called intelligence that has driven our technological advances, we have very limited morality, compassion for others, and empathy. We value the lives of others so very little. As long as we get what we want, stuff everyone else, seems to be the overbearing sentiment.
This very limited mentality, is what has led us down this violent and confrontational existence that we now face. Only if we learn to grow up and mature, stop thinking of our own greed (or the dominance of a country), will we finally break free of this sort of violence – but that would mean we would have to care!!!
Do we care enough to make that change?
My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. We must fight back with a strong voice in order to stop this from happening again.