Here we go again. Yet another mass shooting today, at a school in Texas. Not by Muslim terrorists, not by Mexican immigrants, not by Freddy Krueger, the Chupacabra or Big Foot, but seemingly again by pretty average looking good ole American students. What in the world is going on here?
First off, I grew up in a country where there were no guns around, except in the hands of Police and a few criminals. The number of shootings in (at the time) a country of 14 million was shockingly low; well-trained police, who defuse rather than escalate was part of the reason. Still to this day, the amount of killing is much lower there than here in the US. According to Wikipedia per 100,000 people the rates are as follows:
Netherlands homicide: 0.29 Suicide: 0.28 Guns in possession(per 100): 3.9
United States homicide: 4.62 Suicide: 7.10 Guns in possession(per 100): 101.05
That’s pretty incredible no? So what does it mean?
Most of my liberal friends, American, Dutch or from other places, believe that strong gun regulation is the answer. After living in the US for more than 25 years, I think it’s far from that simple. We’ve heard all the arguments ad nauseum and there’s no denying that guns are a simple way to cause lots of death and destruction. Then again, cars and other vehicles are quite effective too; there are all kinds of ways of making explosives and the easy spread of information through the internet makes proliferation more and more common. Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and perhaps the MOST gun violence of all. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we SHOULD have strong gun regulation, that allowing anybody to buy one at a gun show without any background check is epically stupid. But, I don’t think we can regulate ourselves of the problem of violence.
That’s the REAL problem, that these kids for instance want to shoot up their classmates to begin with. What in the world does it take for someone to do that? I was kind of an outcast in High School; only had one or two real friends, thought the ‘cool’ kids were full of shit. We all experience the angst of life, the relentless beat-down that is the universe. But how come SO many people just snap in these United States?
In an era of “quick and easy” solutions, a time in which attention spans are shorter and shorter, and efficiency is goal number one, this is an issue of particular complexity. Every time you hear someone say “But, but, but the issue is too wide to be solved in the simple way you’re supposing!” most have checked out of the conversation already. We want quick answers, simple solutions, or bust. Ban the guns! Arm the teachers! Harsher punishments! Kick out the losers!
In my opinion, a huge part of the problem is simply that there are too many here who, justifiably or not, believe they have nothing left to lose. Too many who feel they don’t have a chance at a decent life in this rat race, this cesspool of liars and cheaters, of selfishness perpetrated by the ones in charge, the ones that have. I’ve written before about the dehumanizing jobs we’ve created, the public schools that look like they’re located in Syria, not the richest country in the world. Then there are all of those formerly hard-working folks who fell off the wagon because they got sick; two million (2,000,000) Americans will face bankruptcy directly because of medical expenses this year alone! It’s a nightmare of unimaginable proportions, really.
Amazingly, those who own the wealth here, with there increasingly fancy houses, cars and stuff, are getting more and more upset about all the crime and disaster around them. Large numbers of them would describe themselves as Christians, yet compassion is rarely found there. One of my stupid neighbors said it the other day: “I have no compassion for heroin or meth users!” At least Trump has emboldened these folks enough to let us hear their true feelings, their true intentions. It’s unfortunate that the system of propaganda set up here is slowly but surely leading them down a very, very dangerous path: more prisons, walls, less help for the poor. Chances are it will only lead to more violence….