This blog is about what it’s like to live as an expat, peppered with posts about my travels and the cool stuff I get to see and do as someone who landed a job as a semi-jetsetter. For that reason, I have avoided posting about any topics that could be perceived as taboo. It isn’t that I don’t have opinions, but I didn’t feel that this blog was really the place to share those feelings. The funny thing is, if you know me, you know I’m pretty outspoken about what I think… I just generally don’t do it in the social media stratosphere. But recently I asked myself why I don’t share these thoughts out loud from time to time, and I didn’t like the answer I came up with: because I am scared of offending someone. But part of me feels like not saying what you think to avoid rocking the boat is kind of like lying. And I’m tired of lying to my readers…
I think there needs to be more gun control in America. And I think our obsession with the right to own guns is ridiculous.
Before you close this window, unsubscribe from the blog, delete me from Facebook, unfollow me on Twitter, and generally badmouth me because I disagree with something that is important to you, I beg you to consider the following:
I have held a gun. I have fired a gun. My father owns multiple guns and works for a gun manufacturer. I was born and raised in the state whose motto is “Live Free or Die” and where most people I know hunt, own guns, and frequent shooting ranges for fun. I actually support, seasonal regulated hunting (And I’m a vegetarian! The hypocrisy!). I don’t hate guns or gun owners as faction of any population.
Rest assured that posts like this won’t become the norm, here. But if you’re open to learning what I think about this hot topic, and I hope you are, keep reading.
No one is “blaming law-abiding gun owners” for the terrible tragedy in Newtown, CT. Or any of the other gun-related incidents for that matter. I haven’t heard anyone saying that Nancy Lanza is to blame for anything because she legally purchased and registered her firearms. I understand that maybe some gun owners feel like they’re being punished for someone else’s crimes, and I’m sorry. But I’d like to think that if we could give up a few metal objects for the sake of others’ safety, we might at least consider it.
Just because people steal guns, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them harder to get. I read a fascinating line recently that seems to capture this way of thinking: “Gun control won’t prevent 100% of gun violence, so let’s settle for 0%.” If you are one of those law-abiding gun owners, then tougher regulations, including mandatory background checks–even for privately sold guns like those sold at gun shows–mental health screenings, wait periods, inspections, required training and insurance, and other measures will not affect your ability to buy a gun, just the time it takes to get one. And since you’re not in a rush to use it to injure someone, I know that won’t bother you at all. Neither will tougher legislation on gun-trafficking or gang violence.
No one needs an assault rifle. If you want to own such a powerful gun, join the military and receive intense training.
Just because the Constitution (actually it’s the Bill of Rights) says you have the right to own a gun doesn’t mean that right should not be revisited as guns and the population evolve. The Constitution has been revised (amended) 27 times since its original signing. You know why? Because it initially did not contain things like the right to freedom of speech, the right to a trial by jury or the right to vote (for anyone other than white men). It actually did not contain the right to bear arms, either. But it did support the right to own a slave (through no mentions of its infringement on the rights of those who were considered slaves)… until the Involuntary Servitude (13th) amendment was ratified, about 80 years later. And if nothing else in the Constitution or Bill of Rights was ever revised, I would not be able to vote, your house could be searched without cause, you could be forced to house military personnel you didn’t know, and guess what else? You wouldn’t be allowed to legally drink alcohol. The most recent change to the Constitution was ratified in 1992, so why are we all acting like changes made now, after revisiting whether there remains a need to own firearms for protection (the original purpose for the 2nd amendment), would be a blasphemy? (Ps – to read about all the changes the Constitution has undergone since it was signed, check out the full list of amendments here.) Someone recently told me “Guns are so tied to our history. They’re such a part of how we define ourselves.” That’s like an alcoholic saying, “But I’ve been drinking so long, it’s part of who I am.” Guess we should just look the other way, then. After all, the Constitution provides them the right to legally purchase (and thereby consume) “intoxicating liquors.” Slavery, genocide and religious oppression are also tied to our history. Maybe we should be holding onto those, too? Or maybe it’s time we put things that are a part of our past… in the past.
I don’t care about all the statistics stating which thing or weapon kills more people. I’m sick of all the “yeah but, drowning killed more people last year than guns, so I guess we have to outlaw water now, right?” Or the awesome “Australia implemented gun control, but look how gun-related deaths have skyrocketed in reaction!!” which is actually falsified and taken out of context (snopes that shit, people). That little diddy stated that Australian gun owners were “forced by law” to return guns 12 months ago, and the world has since gone crazy. But here’s the truth: Australians were never forced to return guns; their government ran a buy back program when gun control legislation started to be enforced… in 1997. Those dramatic increases in gun violence you read about? Here’s an example of the stats being used to mislead you: a city of 4.5 million people originally had 7 gun-related homicides in 1996, and then 19 the following year, so the percentage for deaths caused by firearms went up, sharply. But in context, that statistic seems a little exaggerated now, doesn’t it? Don’t believe me? Read about it here, with all proper citations linked. And just to make a comparison, Arizona had roughly the same population, and 336 gun-related homicides in 1997. Check it out. Again, I refer you to the statement above about settling for preventing 0% of gun violence.
No, firearm-related deaths are NOT comparable to deaths caused by DUIs. Until the United States finds a way to introduce mass public transportation–and I mean everywhere–cars will continue to be something that are pretty much necessary for most people to function. Guns? Not so much. Of course I think those who end a life (or even just cause injury to themselves or others) because they got behind the wheel of a car while drunk should be severely punished. But let’s think about this for a minute: I’m willing to bet that pretty much all DUI-related deaths were mistakes. Albeit terrible, non-excusable mistakes. These people were not intending to hurt or kill. And how many people ever purposely get drunk, get into a car, drive to a crowded area, and run as many people down as possible before taking their own lives? Not. The. Same.
I’m not saying everyone should have their guns taken away and no one should ever wield a firearm ever again on United States soil. I’m saying that all the stuff I’m seeing and hearing as excuses for not getting a handle on guns in America is lame. I think the choice is this: we either better regulate guns–who can buy them, when, where, how they’re stored, sold, registered, licensed, required training–or we don’t have guns at all. You choose. Owning something that has the power to take a life should be privilege to be earned, not a right.
I’m sure there are friends or family from the States reading this thinking that I only think this way now because I live outside of the US. The truth is I’ve always felt this way, but you’re right in a sense–this issue is much more exaggerated for me as an expat. You see, now I live in an area of the world where guns are much harder to get, gun deaths are much more rare, and much more importance is placed on the freedom and liberty of an entire community to be healthy and safe, not just individual rights. (Fact: in a study produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2011, more than two-thirds of homicides in the US were by firearms, compared to less than one-tenth of homicides in France. Read about it here.)
So that’s my 98 cents. But here’s an extra two: I find it interesting that people often go the route of claiming their legally constituted right, and talk about freedom and liberty as something the United States owes us all. If that’s the path you choose, why is it that your freedom to own an object is often-times more important than another person’s freedom to marry whom they choose? Pop quiz: If one person’s gun is taken away (which, frankly, it probably won’t be), and at the same time, a couple is denied the ability officially marry and claim the rights and benefits of opposite-sex couples, who is really being denied the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? (Hint: it’s the second one)
**Update – due to some great readers kindly pointing out that I was not correctly referring to the capacities of an actual assault rifle, I’ve changed the statement included here. I am happy to have been educated on the fact that these guns, like the AR-15, are not able to spit out bullets like a machine gun (and actually my Dad already taught me that, but I forgot in the ferver of this post). So instead, I will refer to it simply as a powerful gun, as my original statement about such a weapon not being necessary for the general public still stands.
Image credit: knowyourmeme.com