We have yet again seen mass shootings in the good ol United States of America – Home of the Brave, Land of the Free. When I saw on the news the latest mass shooting in a school in Connecticut, my reaction
was “there they go again, haven't they had enough?! Haven't they seen 'Bowling for Columbine' by Michael Moore?” Why are mass shootings so prevalent in the US?? Why on earth do they
have such a 'gun culture'?
Let me just say, from the get-go, that i like America. I mean, i've been there three times so far so I must love the place and the people right? Well, I
do.. on the whole I find Americans to be friendly and generous and I know that they love Australians. We're like the little brothers or little cousins and it seems whatever troubles they have internationally we're right there alongside trying our best. We're
there in Afghanistan, we're there in Iraq etc...
However, on a trip to the States, I went to visit a friend in Florida and he told me that he wouldn't drive in Miami. I asked him
why and he said “they're crazy there, if you cut them off in traffic or whatever, they will get a gun and shoot you!” We had a great time, visited the Keys and never saw any evidence of this murder and mayhem. I've been to New York and Las Vegas,
Los Angeles and San Francisco among others and i never saw a gun, apart from in gun shop windows. Perhaps i was blind to all the guns or maybe i just didnt look in their glove boxes or in their wardrobes? Perhaps these mass shootings only happen in small towns
away from the blind tourists eyes??
Australia doesn't have a 'gun culture' like the US, we've never had a civil war or a war of independence, we've never had a major terrorist attack
on our soil and so what would we know about guns and the right to bear arms? The 'right to bear arms' is not written into our constitution and neither it should be. We simply never needed it, of course our armed forces have weapons and our police service is
armed. The 'right to bear arms' in the States was written at a time when you had to load black powder and then stick the ball down the barrel. I mean, it took time to load a single shot. These weapons of mass destruction such as assault rifles and semi-autos
were not even thought of then. How can a loophole in the law such as technology advancement allow so much death and destruction?
We did have though a number of mass shootings many
years ago.. there was Hoddle Street and Queen Street in Melbourne and Strathfield in Sydney and the last of note was Port Arthur in Tasmania. After Port Arthur the federal government here in Australia at the time got
serious with gun control and although there was an existing licensing system in place in each state/territory, they replaced it with new legislation with all states agreeing to it. Each State government runs its own licensing and registration system. That
is to say, we still have rifles and shotguns and even some pistols out there in the populace but you have to have a good reason for holding them and you have to have safe and secure storage. A 'good reason' is considered to be either you're a farmer/primary
producer and you need to kill pests or you're a recreational shooter who is a member of a club or has access to a property above a certain size. These are the main reasons why people in Australia get licences now to carry firearms. It is strictly controlled
though the system is certainly not perfect.
As someone who once worked in the weapons
licensing system in Australia with the new gun laws, I can say our system ain't perfect by any means but.. and its a big BUT.. it's got to be better than what they got!! The proof is out there... We have not
had a mass shooting since Port Arthur.. period. Yes, we have had shootings.. usually by gang members against each other and usually limited to a few shots being fired. Certain criminal elements will always seem to get weapons, just like they seem to get drugs
and other illicit material but that's not a reason to give up and go buy a gun.
It's not that i don't like guns, I have been a member of a sporting
shooters club in the past and spent time on the range taking shots at a target with an old .22 rifle. The rifle was given to me when i was young. When the new gun laws came into play, i simply made a decision to give up the rifle i had. I realised
it was a pastime that i didn't want to continue. My dad introduced me when I was young to firearms as he worked at the club for a number of years. I mixed with sporting shooters and the like for quite a while but I still don't see the reason for semi-autos
and assault rifles in the suburbs. Having spent time in rural and regional Queensland I don't see the reason for these weapons even out there on the big properties. In my opinion, a good shot with a decent rifle or shotgun should be able to get rid of pests.
Fear of crime is often stated as one reason for owning a gun but this is erroneous really. This argument has more to do with the state of justice administration in a country and its socioeconomic
status than it does with real crime. We have here in Australia a Neighbourhood Watch program, a criminal justice system that works reasonably well though it's true to say it ain't perfect. But then, there is no such thing as a 'perfect world'. As a previous
student of criminology I can say that the 'fear of crime' statistics are always worse than the actual crime rate, this goes for most of the western world at least.
I think America
is in a 'vicious cycle' quite frankly... lets look at it this way: a criminal gets a gun illegally to do his business and the concerned citizen sees this and thinks “if i dont get a gun they're going to do me in!” So, the citizen gets a gun but
then the citizens kid steals the gun and goes on a rampage becoming anothers worst fears so then they get guns... you see, it's a vicious cycle and somebody needs to say 'enough is enough!'
I would call on the current President on the eve of his second Inauguration (he's in his last term as president anyway) to take the lead in this as he says he's going to do now and try to ban assault rifles and the like. This is a positive first step
America, don't turn away from it because its too hard – embrace the change. Yes You Can!! :) Otherwise, what's the alternative?? More WMDs on the streets and more dead in mass shootings!!
From one concerned little brother to their big brothers over there... please stop the killing of innocents!