I live in Guatemala, supposedly one of the most dangerous places in the world.
Yet I feel more afraid for my family and friends back home in the United States of America, due to the rise in violent crime and mass shootings in public arenas such as schools, churches, theaters, universities and shopping malls.
Tim Fischer, former deputy prime minister of Australia, is none too pleased with the way the U.S. issues travel warnings about other countries, including his own.
He says that the mass shootings in the United States deserve a similar warning. He singled out the National Rifle Association, for obvious reasons.
“The NRA in particular needs to be called out for their unacceptable blockage of any sensible reform, including [ammunition] magazine limitation.” ~Tim Fischer
In his brilliant, yet disturbing New Yorker essay, “Thresholds of Violence,” Malcolm Gladwell reminds us, “Since Sandy Hook, there have been more than 140 school shootings in the United States.”
He compares the epidemic of school shootings with that of a “slow-motion, ever-evolving” riot.
If a riot evolves as it spreads, starting with the hotheaded rock thrower and ending with the upstanding citizen, then rioters are a profoundly heterogeneous group.
Gladwell cites the story of a young man who is caught amassing weaponry and creating bombs in a storage unit in his Minnesota hometown. He readily admits to planning to kill his family and classmates, even though, “They did nothing wrong. I just wanted as many victims as possible.”
He argues that the 1999 school shooting in Columbine, Colorado was a tipping point of sorts. The Columbine “mastermind”—Eric Harris—reportedly wanted to “kick-start a revolution.” In eight of the 12 major school shootings in the United States after Columbine, the shooters made explicit reference to the two Columbine killers.
Gladwell’s conclusion is chilling:
The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.
I do not have any answers. I don’t like guns. I’ve never shot a gun, except a BB gun, and that’s despite the fact that I’m from Texas. When I was a kid, I wished all the guns would be dumped into the ocean, and I still do wish that there were no guns in existence.
So, I will defer to the esteemed writer and yoga teacher Mark Morford, whose October column, “Shooting Up America: Guns are a National Disgrace,” is well worth a read. Here are a few of his spot-on lines:
Guns are death made physical, palpable in the hand. They are our basest, least sacred energies—hate, fear, paranoia—compressed into metal and explosives. No one holds or fires a gun without some fundamental understanding of this fact—that he could, if he so desired, kill anything he wanted, right now, in an instant—and that’s essentially all you’re supposed do with it.
Guns are the antithesis of love and compassion; they advance the human experiment not at all, and in fact, shatter and humiliate it with every pull of the trigger.
Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Christopher Dombres/Flickr