A young man’s life was taken last month because the USA allowed it. I know that sounds simple but, tell me I am wrong and I am sure all of the extremists and nutters on both side of the question will be out in force. Yes--- it will bring out the good and the bad in the USA.
The ‘gun lobby will wail and groan about ‘their rights to defend themselves and things will get ugly down on the mean streets as vigilante type groups will seek redress. Where there is other ‘injustice’ the emotional flood banks will be at risk of being breached as the USA grapples with fallout of that tragic shooting. President Obama summed it up in his remarks that Trayvon could easily have been his kid if he a boy.
Travyvon was an ordinary kid, not a gangster or a criminal. I am sure that there will be attempts to put ‘spin’ on the character Trayvon. I bet that there will be attempts to paint him in a less than positive light. Perhaps that has already happened.
There is much that is not good in American society, just as there is here too in NZ, but history has shown us over and over that despite rules around the carrying and use of guns, there is no guarantee that citizens will be protected from the misuse of guns. I can hear the hunters and ‘Mums and Dads’ who just want to be able to protect themselves, screaming from the heights, about their constitutional right to bear arms. I can also see the anguish as more and more innocent people are killed, leaving their families bereft and angry.
Will the USA ever find a balance between the opposing arguments or will politicians step aside from their responsibility to care for all of the citizens? Is the USA still a wild frontier that demands one should keep a gun under the pillow or in the glove box in the car, or worse still, carried somewhere on the body.
From a distance, it appears that the USA is at war with itself. We have seen the demonstrations around the distribution of wealth in the USA and elsewhere, but have things reached a point where the guns will be turned to a different reason to shoot and maim? Are the huge numbers of homeless people going to become a target, because they represent a threat to those that ‘have?’
The USA is a huge country with diverse geography and history. Sure it is united in many ways too, but the variance in wealth and ownership within the economy creates vast differences in responses to everyday events. For those living in down town New York, the pressures are very different to someone living in Wyoming or Texas. The ‘gun laws in each area and the availability of guns also varies. The perceived threats that citizens face will also play a part in whether one deems that they should own a gun and how they should use it.
How is it then, that the USA keeps witnessing Columbine type incidents, in a variety of cities and towns? It must come back to a collective culture that not only allows, but seeks to guarantee that these tragic events will play out on our TV screens and the internet. This culture has been present right from the founding constitutional era. If anything, it has grown and become embedded in the American psyche; becoming something untouchable and there it would take an extremely brave or foolish political action to make any changes. The debate rears its head regularly, before being parked until the next revolting incident.
Many in the USA would point to the other potent threat to their country since 9/11. They may use the excuse that if anything, it is now even more important that bearing weapons is not only their right but a necessity. I have some sympathy for them, but doubt the validity of that argument. I doubt that any number of guns in hand will stop that threat. The reasons for the ‘attack’ on the USA are far more complex and quite frankly, ones that need more than the USA looking at itself.
I feel for the families and individuals in the USA who have been victims in one way or another of the ‘guns,’ that beset their society. The debate will go on and I suspect that we will still be watching from afar in the next century. God only knows what the guns will look like and be capable of then!