I recently visited Southern California – after years of wanting to check out the sites and sounds of that magical place known as ‘Tinseltown’ in particular.
With myriads of other excited tourists, I dove into what Hollywood and Los Angeles have to offer – super attractions, great weather, cool tourist sites and of course the ubiquitous Palm trees.
I also found Angelinos to be very friendly and helpful all the way through. Even driving on the dreaded Los Angeles freeways and thoroughfares wasn’t nearly as ‘scary’ as I had imagined.
What was troubling was seeing shop signs for guns.
It’s a country that, for the most part, stands resolutely behind its ‘right to bear arms’. That belief, which is so ingrained in American culture as far as I can tell, pretty much quashes, time and again, calls for serious and substantial reform when it comes to toughening up gun control measures.
And with such freedom when it comes to owning weapons, it should really come as little surprise that violence connected to guns is a constant.
Driving this whole point home even further was the recent death of a shooting instructor in Arizona. News reports say he was accidentally shot and killed by a nine-year-old girl who he was teaching to fire an automatic Uzi submachine gun. The gun allegedly fired after it recoiled in the girl’s hands.
There are so many disturbing aspects to this story, it’s hard to know where to start. First of all – who on earth feels the need to have their child educated on learning how to use this type of weapon – or any weapon for that matter?
It’s bad enough we have adults freely learning how to run around with access to these things, but kids? I cannot fathom any parent even wanting their child to be around these kinds of weapons, not to mention even being around a shooting range – period.
But again, it speaks to a very individualistic culture where people are taught from day one that it is their fundamental, God-given right to own a weapon. It’s simply their ‘right.’
To those of us who live in countries where gun control is far more stringent, it’s outrageous.
The accident in Arizona naturally sparked another round of gun safety talks in the U.S. but it’s doubtful much will change. My sense from reading stories about what happened is that while everyone of course acknowledges what happened as a terrible tragedy, there doesn’t appear to be much of a desire to abruptly change the status quo. It’s a politically-charged issue with powerful lobbyists constantly going on about those ‘rights’.
Unfortunately, few politicians who privately disagree have the stomach to fight back.
The argument goes something like this – it’s not about the guns, it’s about who is handling the gun. The ‘gun’ is just a neutral piece of equipment, but put it in the hands of a crazy person, well, of course its deadly potential escalates.
I’m not sure how lobbyists continually finds ways to defend their stance on guns. We are always hearing about shootings in the U.S. Again, little changes. There are promises to review the standards and policies, but we all know where those kinds of vague commitments end up.
With this shooting in Arizona, one wonders what the response will be. No doubt there will be more excuses and the whole issue will fade as time passes. And really, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hope for change anyways at least in some parts of the country – consider the state of Georgia which recently implemented a new open-carry gun law earlier this summer.
It has reportedly granted licensed gun owners the ability to carry their weapons in many previously off-limit areas. This includes bars, restaurants, nightclubs, churches, some government buildings, certain zones in primary and secondary schools and non-secure sections of Atlanta’s airport. Wow. Just think, you could be sitting in a church sanctuary surrounded by a bunch of gun-carrying people.
As I mentioned, I didn’t feel unsafe in the U.S. But knowing you are in a place where gun ownership is prevalent makes a person think a bit differently about a vacation – no matter how many charming things there are about the locale in general.