Shoot to kill

This is a piece a good friend and I wrote together all the way back in 2013. The years have flowed on and yet the problem has gotten worse not better. (@marvinjmathew)

The 79 bodies that washed up in Syria, the loads of children gunned down in city centres daily, the Latino boy shot in the face in Georgia while trying to apologise. A high-profile runner accidentally shoots and his own girlfriend. A performer at Obama’s second inauguration died because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lives worth living needlessly lost to the antithesis of the silver bullet.

I'm worried about a society than can see this and not worry. Have we lost our humility? Have we lost our humanity? Are we so desensitised by the news or are we just so comfortable in our bubbles? How can we not care about this? And why do we value a constitutional amendment more than the potential of our countrymen and countrywomen?

Why do we need guns?

Once upon a time, statehood was a fluid concept. It was every man for himself. We were states united by fiscal and political incentives, rather than a nation divided by state borders. The world was a different place. The Bastille, France’s most famous prison, was stormed by revolutionaries. The people, the world over, were challenging a status quo of supreme power by birth rights. There were few political processes to ensure you were heard. The majority were uneducated. There was no Internet.

Today looks much different. We can be heard. In fact, we are heard. Governments are paralysed more by the number of competing demands and mass of information than by lack of systems. Today, we each have more than we have ever had before. We have an education. We have roads and public transport networks. Soon, we’ll have healthcare too. We have open forums, on- and off-line, to make ourselves known. And we don’t need to shoot anybody to ensure our own freedoms.

So why do you need a gun?

Many argue that, without a gun, they put themselves in danger. This, of course, only makes sense when there are other people with guns to shoot at you. If there are no guns, period, there is no need for one for protection. And this has proven itself time and time again globally.

Why do we fear so much about our lives at the moment? Sure, the economy is unstable. And sure, it’s hard to get a job. And healthcare isn’t great. And you’ve got a family to feed and a college debt to pay off. And even though you’ve got clean water and there might be people willing to help you out when times get tough, it’s all relative. Having clean water, sanitation and internet might make your life a thousand times better than if you were born a century earlier, but it doesn’t change your position on the social hierarchy today. And it’s scary not knowing how you’ll survive. But will a gun solve your problems?

It’s not just guns. It's war and our responsibility to each other. In Africa they have Ubuntu, I succeed by your Success. Let’s flip the problem. How do we care more about our countrymen and countrywomen? How do we band together to again be a United States of America? Because the world isn’t inherently a bad place. And people do care about you. It’s about time we started showing each other that. Sitting down over cups of drip coffee and talking about what matters. Sharing ourselves. Letting people in. Opening our minds.

According to GunPolicy.org, the death by gunshot wound rate in the US was 10.63 per 100 000 people. This comes in about on par with Mexico, the Phillipines and Palestine. In Australia, where guns are all but banned, this rate was 1.06 per 100 000 people. In Australia, you can walk the streets and feel pretty safe, even at 3am. We don’t pay that much more in tax. And even though our population is less than a 10th of the US, we have far more land to cover with our limited police force. Interestingly, our police numbers per capita are approximately equal. So why don’t we cry foul when teenagers use guns to shoot their classmates? Why do so many police shootings get swept under the rug? Why do we have a culture in our defence forces, in the very people who keep us safe, that encourages absolute fear that creates volatile situations on the daily?

And what are we going to do about it?

This is America- It's time we start acting like we care.

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