Individualism and America’s love affair with guns – make America safe again


Individualism and self reliance are deeply rooted values in America and these are wonderful values.  Women like me who come to the US from a more traditional, paternalistic culture, find opportunities to excel, and appreciation of their individual worth in this culture.  However, this deep rooted individualistic perspective also impacts lax gun laws, in this country.  

Americans contend that they want to feel secure INSIDE their homes and therefore they favor legal gun ownership.  Who are the people sitting inside the homes, homes that are attractive to intruders?  Most likely they are older people of some means or sometimes they are people living in good neighborhoods keeping a watch that no one wearing a hoodie ambles into their space.  Who are the people who are out and about, are in schools, colleges, in shopping malls, movie theaters, and clubs?  Often these are young people. (http://bit.ly/QZOh2a,  http://bit.ly/TlaQN2) And sometimes they are people of lesser means in wrong clothes, in wrong neighborhoods http://bit.ly/15EInJ4 .   No parent will knowingly want to arm themselves to be more secure while their children are running around exposed to threats outside, and yet that is exactly the effect created.  As we arm ourselves to create security in our small living spaces, we forget where our loved ones are; our individualistic perspective only enables us to see that if we are armed then we can defend our loved ones.  We want to control our fate and that of our loved one.  We forget that fewer intruders now attempt to break into increasingly more secure homes; more enter through open windows or doors.  While we don’t need guns to protect ourselves in our homes, with lax gun laws, more people heavily armed, seek out crowded places where young innocent people are studying, mingling, shopping, enjoying a movie, finding love.

During intense discussion and postmortem on the news channels, after the Orlando shooting, I watched with fascination, the overwhelming interest in analysis, re-analysis, post analysis and continuous repetition about the life and actions of the individual shooter, Omar Mateen. I understand that the law enforcement would be interested in such analysis in order to ensure that attacks like these may be prevented in future, and in order to bring any other accomplices to justice.  But why should the public hear for the umpteenth time what the shooter texted to his wife and what his father thought of the attacks?  Does it come from a false illusion of safety that if we would only understand fully this individual attacker then we can prevent other attackers, despite even law enforcement people saying over and over that it is very hard to stop lone attackers, with semi automatic weapons?

Even when it is clearly evident that we have no control, we assume control.  Ironically, Donald Trump tweeted “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism”.  Trump has insisted on using the phrase “radical Islam” and sure we must acknowledge radical elements responsible for the attacks, but then why not use a more appropriate term “radical ideology” so that we can understand a broader range of mass shooters including those like Mateen but also those like Boston marathon bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers and Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who engaged in the Sikh temple massacre?  And should we also invent a term for those with guns, with mental illness, like Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook shooter), James Holmes (Aurora, CO shooter), and Seung-Hui Cho responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre; people who should get easy access to health care, not easy access to guns.  Also, Orlando shooter, Mateen like Sandy Hook shooter, Lanza, grew up in the US.  For how many generations are we going to consider people to be immigrants, when many young people are easily acquiring radical ideology vastly different from the environment they grew up in?  Consider also the information below that may be contradictory to many of our tightly held beliefs. While two young girls in Erbil, invented a fast bomb detection system to counter terrorism threat http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/280620141 , some young people having grown up in Christian homes in the US and Europe have been attracted to join ISIS. The threat my friends, comes from any extremist ideology that can target our disillusioned youth. 

In the age where world is getting smaller, in an age where people leave their homeland by boatloads and risk their lives to escape their grim realities, in an age of extensive air travel (because more illegal immigrants in the US, enter legally), in the age of fence jumping, drones and tunnels, we want to resort to the primitive; and build walls, because we believe in creating our small safe zone domain.  In an era where Chinese hackers can get into our military databases, where hackers from Nigeria can steal our credit card details, ISIS can steal the souls of our young people through social media, and engineers from Brazil, China and India can steal our jobs, without stepping foot on the US soil; in an era where boundaries are getting extended or disappearing altogether, we wish to create security by building a wall, that gets bigger on a whim. (Unfortunately Great Britain’s vote to exit the EU this morning, is along the same lines).

And finally, there is no case for increasing the safety against home intruders with a semi automatic rifle versus a handgun.  The design of first semi automatic rifle is attributed to a German gunsmith in the year 1885.  The second amendment was adopted in the year, 1791.  Clearly the second amendment does not pertain to semi automatic weapons; it only pertains to the right of the people to keep and bear arms, supporting the natural rights of self-defense; not to support unnatural obsession for annihilation of others.

Once again in conclusion, guns give us a false sense of security, but enhance the real danger of unintended and innocent victims, often younger in age.  According to some recent stats on gunviolencearchive.org, the number of people killed in home invasion incidents is smaller than number of people killed accidently, and each of these numbers were higher almost by 10X than the number of people killed in mass shootings.  Most deaths in the US by gun violence happen in ways we don’t read about in a newspaper; and all of these shooting incidents have only one thing in common, typically a gun is involved.

If we wish to take collectivist responsibility for safety of all citizens versus creating tiny islands of assumed safety in our homes, then we must pass sensible #gunreform laws to institute background safety laws. But remember, this is a small and partial measure.  People with mental illness or disillusioned kids falling through the cracks become temporarily more radical in teen and young adulthood years; at this point they many not have any established patterns of behavior.  We must ban semi automatic weapons; no civilian needs to own them.  We must create a safety net for our children during impressionable years, so we don’t lose them to radical elements.  We must make mental health easy and available for anyone who seeks it.  Pacifists like me must work with law abiding gun owners who also favor sensible gun laws, while protecting the 2nd amendment.  Let us take a collectivist stand to support leaders who are actively speaking out with our voice, our votes, and money so that our children can be free to learn and give those stealing their jobs, a run for their money; so that they can go to the movies and shopping malls, without fear; so that they feel free to find love, because love always triumphs hate.  Let us think beyond creating our small island of safety, and build a safer country for our children and for future generations.

 

 

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