EDITORIAL: Identity through the barrel of a gun
IN my weekly editorial I get to write about many pleasant and up-lifting things that happen in and around the shire and the world.
It’s one of the perks of my job. But sometimes there are unspeakably tragic events that nevertheless need to be written about.
Like the latest chapter in America’s sad history of gun violence with 49 people murdered in a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida.
It has been described as both a hate crime and an act of terrorism with the US born gunman Omar Mateen reportedly pledging allegiance to ISIS and having a history of domestic abuse. According to his wife the shooter was mentally ill, possibly bipolar.
Mateen worked, as a security officer at G4S Secure Solutions, and fellow workers say he habitually made violently sexist, racist and homophobic remarks in the work place and some had reported his behaviour.
The list of warning signs goes on and on with Mateen twice interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014, but he was not on any terror watch lists.
One of the sickening things that happens after these horribly regular mass shootings is the waiting. We all wait for the the National Rifle Association and the pro-gun lobby in America to defend the indefensible.
You know what I am talking about- one good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy, as if somehow arming everyone will make us safer. More and more Americans are arming themselves and it is demonstrably becoming less safe in the States.
The bottom line is that America has insane gun laws. The tolerance and support for these laws is deeply rooted in their culture and history. America to a tragic extent defines itself through the barrel of a gun.
At every turn in their movies, on television, in video games and in real life on the news, gun culture saturates every scenario.
Whether you are settling the frontiers, seeking justice, solving a crime or making a political point much of America’s culture expects and rejoices at the solution blazing out of the barrel of a gun. Its the ultimate last word in any conversation.
Looking for answers by examining or judging the character, religion or relative sanity of a mass killer is useless.
Back ground checks and vigilance will help a little but the free availability and promotion of guns has to be curbed, especially the easy availability of rapid fire assault weapons.
Australia is a shining example of this.
And thanks here must go to John Howard for putting on his bullet proof vest and staring down the opposition.
But in the US there is too much at stake financially, politically and culturally to break the nexus between guns and identity.
I wish I could end on a hopeful note but I fear worse is coming as the US entertains the idea of electing Donald Trump.