Born in Iran during a vicious war with Iraq, guns and bombs were a daily reality. My friends all ran around with toy guns, toy rifles, army shorts and hats, make-believe bombs and grenades and RPGs. A number of older kids ran around with actual pistols.
Before long I found myself in Texas, where part of my family lived. Texas is a gun state; guns are wholly ingrained in the culture, in a way I've found rare even in the US, as guns are a part of daily life in a way which hasn't altered all that much since settlement of the country. Kids in my class ran around with toy guns, toy rifles, cowboy chaps and hats, make-believe horses and shoot-outs and outlaws and sheriffs. A number of older kids ran around with actual rifles.
Throughout my childhood I begged for a toy gun. Yet, no matter the intensity of my pleas, the fervour of my demands, the sincerity of my begging, my parents refused to allow me to own any toy guns or rifles.
I was angry one day, so I pled my case passionately, pointing to the toy swords and demanding to know what was different between those and toy guns.
I will never forget my parents unified response: "guns aren't toys".
It took me a long time to really understand what they meant.
Let me clarify before you read any further; I am not anti-gun. I am also against the ridiculously political expression "anti-" anything, which seeks to categorise people and opinions into neat boxes which can be attacked for absolutely no valid purpose besides cheap popularism.
Guns aren't toys.
They're not cars, they're not bikes, they're not accessories or decoration or useful daily items.
The sole purpose of a gun is to kill.
Here's where it gets a little crazy in the US.
- There are fewer regulations and processes to buy a gun than there is to obtain a driver's licence.
- The types of firearms available for individuals to purchase include assault rifles and heavy weaponry.
- Individual guns are not regulated; it is harder to sell a car engine than a gun.
- You can avoid background checks by buying a gun from a gun show.
Any attempt at regulating guns has been met with vehement criticism and backlash. The US has seemed incapable of discussing the issue rationally, instead resorting to a myriad of confusing arguments, confusing to the rest of the world, that is, which all essentially boiled down to a simple statement.
No matter who or how many people die, it doesn't matter enough.
No other developed country has this unbelievable issue. Almost 407,000 people have been killed in the US due to gun violence since 2000, yet the population won't consider making an effort to stem the tide of death by eliminating assault rifles.
God forbid, what if the US is invaded?
God forbid, what if the people need to overthrow the Government?
These are the 2 arguments I hear again and again. Let the gravity of the statements sink in.
What if the US is invaded? What if the people need to overthrow the Government?
The US spends more on defence than the next 26 countries on the list combined. The US is surround by Canada and Mexico. The United States has never been invaded.
As for overthrowing the Government... there are some 318 million Americans, 245 million of whom are over 18. Out of those, almost 219 million are considered eligible to vote. 57.5% of those eligible to vote actually voted in the 2012 election. That's 57.5% of eligible voters. That's 54.4% of the total population over 18. Historically, the US voter participation rate is consistently low compared to other developed countries. With such low participation rates, a lack of understanding of political process and an apathetic, uninformed public, is it any surprise that the US population views their government not as representatives of the people, but as enemies?
The US may be the only developed nation to act like a developing country when it comes to politics and violence.
The statistics on gun violence are truly staggering. I urge you to read the well-researched statistics at Vox.
There have been almost 406,500 gun related deaths since 2000 in the United States.
Men, women, children.
It doesn't seem to matter enough to change the game plan, to try something new.
For decades massacres have happened and no significant (I would argue even insignificant) attempts have been made to target the guns themselves, whether by curtailing the types able to be sold or the way in which they are regulated.
Yet massacres continue to happen. Deaths pile on daily. The gameplan doesn't change.
It just doesn't seem to matter enough to Americans.
If you are a gun-advocate and an American, I would appreciate the opportunity to hear your point of view.