So, this is one of the most hotly talked about topics in the blogosphere at the moment, mostly from people in America. Normally I steer clear of political topics because I generally don’t have a well-formed (or I suppose well-educated) opinion. This is potentially true in this case too, however I do have a unique insight and overview of the whole thing as I’m not from the US, and I’ve grown up in a very different world when it comes to guns and the laws that surround them.
In my humble opinion, Australia has a fantastic system when it comes to guns. You firstly need a licence which I believe also requires background checks. I can hear the American pro-gun uproar at the thought of it: “What do you mean, a background check? It’s my right to have a gun!”. Tying in with that, to obtain a licence you absolutely have to be over 18. Sorry, underagers, but you have next to no chance of picking up a weapon unaccompanied down under. Secondly, anyone who owns gun/s must have their serial number registered to them. No, you can’t just go to a gun show and pick one up. (Side note: who the fuck even thinks gun shows are legitimate entertainment anyway?!). Thirdly, anyone who owns gun/s must have a secure storage place for them. The authorities can check. Cue pro-gunners: “How is that going to help if someone is breaking in? Where’s the security in that? What’s the point?”
See, the thing about all these laws is, it means less people have access to guns. A lot less. By having less guns, it means they’re less likely to fall into the wrong hands. We almost certainly will never have a re-enactment of America’s Sandy Hook shooting. Firstly, because most families simply don’t own a gun. For the ones that do, they are stored under lock and key, far away from curious little hands and minds.
With our stricter laws, we don’t have gun shows or easy-to-find gun shops. We don’t stock ammo in everyday stores. Kids with mental issues – such as the case with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris – can’t just got out and pick up a couple of rifles. Even if they were of age, chances are they’d have gotten knocked back before even being able to obtain a gun licence.
“I’m sure if they were desperate enough, they’d have found a way to get their hands on some guns.”
That may be true, I can’t completely deny that. Mentally ill people can do some pretty desperate things. That being said, Australia hasn’t had any mass shootings at all since before tougher gun laws were introduced in 1996 – and even that shooting was done by someone of age. We certainly have our fair share of people with mental issues and disabilities. The gun laws – no doubt coupled with a great health system – have stopped school shootings from happening. Put simply, it’s just too hard. Even if they could find someone with a gun (in the populated cities and suburbs I’d say that would be difficult), the person they’re taking the gun from is registered to it. It would take the police no time at all to trace it back to them. Who wants to risk that? Nobody.
“But the right to bear arms is in the constitution!”
Yeah. So what? While I appreciate that Americans see the constitution as the be-all-and-end-all, I just don’t get it. Maybe because Australia doesn’t really have anything similar, I just don’t really follow the logic. It was written hundreds of years ago. A lot has changed since then. We have access to better technology, better heath systems, better education than when that was written. Why can’t it be changed? Or I guess, more to the point, even if it says it, why does it mean everyone should have a gun? Just because you have the right to do it, doesn’t mean you need to. I have the right to eat fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner…it doesn’t mean I do it.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
I seriously can’t stress how idiotic that line is. It seems to crop up every time a pro-gunner opens their mouth. You’re being stupid. If the guns weren’t there, less people would be dead. I don’t care how you want to look at it, you can’t kill half as many people in a physical attack (such as a stabbing) than you can with a weapon. Nobody is suggesting that simply by having a gun, you’re going to kill someone. However by having a gun, it means you have the ability to do it easily and efficiently without getting into any form of combat whatsoever. No, the gun doesn’t pull it’s own trigger, but the person behind it likely wouldn’t commit the murder at all without it.
“I only have a gun for protection because everyone else has a gun!”
This I understand. Completely. It’s just a reflection of how out of hand gun control is in the States. If you feel you need a dangerous weapon just because you’re worried other people might use their dangerous weapons on you, it’s time to take a good hard look at why you both have them at all. Australians don’t feel the need to own guns because we know that our neighbours likely don’t have any to turn on us with, and if they do, they’ve had proper screenings before they’ve been allowed one. The gun problem isn’t going to get any better if you keep letting people buy them for protection.
Just because we are on the other side of the world, doesn’t mean we don’t feel the impacts of the school shootings Americans go through. We see it on the news, we read it in the newspapers, we see it on social media. All those broken families, crying faces, people asking why. Our whole nation asks that same question too. Why? Why do you keep letting this happen to your children? You watch on in horror, you hang your flags at half mast, you mourn for them…and yet you do nothing to fix the problem. Do you honestly think this problem is just going to go away? That it will fix itself? That disturbed people will just decide to seek help instead of acting out their fantasies?
Wake up to yourself, America.
Collumbine happened back in 1999. This has been an ongoing issue for SIXTEEN YEARS. It isn’t going away. It won’t fix itself. Mentally ill people aren’t seeking help. Stop putting guns in their hands. Stop letting innocent lives be ended prematurely for a constitutional right. Isn’t it a basic human right to live? To feel safe in your own country? To go and get a education without fear? Until something changes, we will continue to watch in horror as more mass shootings occur, I guarantee it.
*Full disclaimer that I’m not meaning to offend people with this post. I understand that Americans have been conditioned to believe guns are a part of life. Also, if any of my facts are incorrect, I apologise. I’m not an expert. This is just one person’s view on the whole issue.