Most people know that the American government isn’t the most popular one in the world. I knew this when I lived in the US, but it didn’t truly hit home until I moved overseas. It seemed as if, all of a sudden, complete strangers would start to ask me questions about US policy and why our government does things the way that it does. People would ask me how I managed to work in healthcare with the constant worry of being sued hanging over my head. Or what is it like to live somewhere where anyone can own a gun? Was I constantly afraid of being shot?
I wouldn’t call it anti-Americanism. I don’t believe in any way, shape, or form that the majority of Kiwis “have it in” for Americans or resent their presence here. It’s more the impression that they don’t agree with US policies, laws, or understand how a society can be so destructive. Wars. Murder. The prolific amount of guns and how easily they’re available. And yes, I do think that guns in the US are very easily available, especially after I heard what’s involved to get a handgun in New Zealand. I believe that owning a firearm in NZ requires police interviews of 2 referees and yourself, a police inspection of your home to insure safe storage, attending a safety lecture, passing a written test and, depending on the type of gun you’re wanting to register or purchase, an endorsement from a club or employer, and basically a shining halo hanging over your head. Or something like that.
Obviously this post is written in response to the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. I never thought so much about gun control in America until I was no longer living in America. Anymore, America’s “gun control” laws seem absolutely ridiculous to me. I think about the number of shooting victims that I cared for when I worked in the States. Even then, I still didn’t think about gun control as much as I do now.
I understand that the “right to bear arms” is basically ingrained in some people’s psyche. People talk about it being a part of America’s foundation. I wonder whether or not the founding fathers knew that, hundreds of years later, their words would be used to continue to support policies that allow 24 year olds to legally own handguns, a shotgun, and an assault rifle… weapons which were then used to murder 12 people and injure many more. He was legally within his rights to own all of those weapons. And that just boggles my mind.
I recently read an article where the author, Cindy Handler, questioned how US society could have laws that allow a “nut” to carry that number of guns. Her answer: it’s because “a small group of paranoid individuals feel that if they aren’t permitted to carry a weapon at all times anywhere, they’re in grave danger”. She asked an interesting question: why don’t more people take advantage of the laws that gun lobbyists support, laws that give people the right to bear arms and protect themselves at all times? Why weren’t some of those gun advocates there, sitting in that theater, with their gun pointed at the exits just in case some lunatic came in with a mind to shoot everyone? Which, unfortunately, is exactly what happened.
Her response: because we’re all too busy living our lives. Very few people actually walk around in a state of high alert every second of every day, weapon at the ready or very nearly at the ready. And yet those laws that allow us to have weapons on our person at all times to defend ourselves are the same laws that allow people like the Aurora shooter to walk into a crowded theater and kill a dozen people and injure over 4 times that amount.
It’s crazy. Who knows. Maybe when we move back to the US I’ll jump off the deep end and get involved in some sort of anti-NRA group. Doubtful, but I can understand the inclination.