By now you’ve heard about the actions of one deranged psychopath in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. This is a tragedy, and my heart aches for the people who were killed, injured or otherwise affected.
Having said that, there is an underlying issue with this tragic event, and mass shootings in general that no one is talking about, and that’s the demand in this country for absolute safety.
An article on Yahoo this afternoon contained the following quote:
“We don’t understand America’s need for guns,” said Philip Alpers, director of the University of Sydney’s GunPolicy.org project that compares gun laws across the world. “It is very puzzling for non-Americans.”
I doubt Mr. Alpers will ever see this, but it’s really not difficult to understand. However it does require a rudimentary grasp of American history – which sadly even many Americans don’t seem to possess.
This country was founded upon the principle of an armed society and government by the people. To understand why, you have to examine the tyranny and oppression of the British government from which we fought to separate. The guiding principle is that an armed community will be better prepared to defend itself, and will be properly equipped to keep the government in line.
Say what you want about the second part, but the fact remains that there are many repressive governments in the world – and the imbalance of power in those countries is vast compared to the freedoms we enjoy in the US. Imagine living in constant fear that the slightest hint of non-conformity meant imprisonment or even death (North Korea), or a land where anything short of absolute religious indoctrination meant a stoning or beheading. This is not just a dangerous ideal – there are parts of the world where these ‘punishments’ are routinely carried out. Or imagine the constant fear of living in a place where only a few dozen miles away the Islamic State had just besieged and massacred innocent people by the 10’s of thousands in a neighboring city. Imagine gathering up your family and fleeing your home, your possessions and your city because you have no way to defend yourself.
But you don’t have that here. And it’s reasonable to speculate that maybe you have an armed society to thank for at least part of that.
How effective would the IS be if they encountered 50,000 armed civilians at every turn? Could Kim Jong Un operate such a unilateral dictatorship in the United States? No. Because someone would have offed him long before he could demand every man in that country wear the same stupid haircut as him.
How successful would the Nazis have been in the 1930’s, when they employed blitzkrieg military tactics to overwhelm most of Europe? What if they’d encountered armed citizenry in Poland, France, Greece, Czechoslovakia, or any other of the countries they overran?
The sad part of this from a societal perspective is had the attack in Charleston not been so blatantly racially motivated in a time where racial tensions are getting worse by the week, this would just be another mass shooting by another deranged psychopath.
MoxieMen Incorporated has at times had a diverse array of clients on our roster, and all in all a member of just about every race, gender and sexual orientation has been a MoxieMen client at one time or another. But there are two individuals in particular who come to mind when it comes to the notion of living under the constant threat of violence.
The native countries of the two gentlemen in question are sworn enemies, so naturally I didn’t tell them about one another while they were both clients at the same time. One of the men was Dan, who lives in Israel near Jerusalem but had spent 10 years stateside in his early adult life. The other, a man named Mahmoud – as you can probably guess from the context of this paragraph, is from Gaza. Mahmoud now lives in the Detroit area with his wife and four kids and has been in the US legally for a long time. I never asked, but he is likely a naturalized citizen by now.
To make things worse, this was in 2013, when tensions between Israel and Palestine almost led to all-out war. As such, rocket attacks and raids left 44 people dead including non-combatants ranging in age from two to 61 years old (source). 38 of the dead were Palestinians.
As I got to know the two men individually, the conversations eventually turned to the cultural differences between the Middle East and America. And while the discussions were generally light and cordial, I had the opportunity to ask both of them individually what the biggest difference was between their homeland and the US. Their answer was EXACTLY the same: Safety. Mahmoud’s words: “It’s safe here”.
It’s safe here. There aren’t nuclear weapons pointed at us from virtually every direction. The people in our border cities don’t live under the constant threat of mortar and rockets being lobbed over the fence at us. The Islamic State isn’t going to crash our borders and march from city to city beheading and burning us alive.
In a population of 320 million people, there are going to be some psychopaths. And every once in a while, one of these psychopaths will snap, and tragedy will strike. And while the increased media coverage and exposure of these events makes it seem as if the frequency of such attacks is increasing, the truth is that the number of mass shootings has remained static (source: USA Today). In fact, that same USA Today article states that there are on average 20 mass shootings annually that involve at least four deaths. In other words, you only hear about the really bad ones.
If a person happens to be at the mall, or the movie theater, or in school, or on their college campus, or at McDonalds, their church or anywhere else tragedy happens to strike at that moment, there’s probably not a lot that person can do to defend themselves in those particular circumstances.
In the interest of objectivity, I want to fully acknowledge that I have never been in an ‘active shooter’ situation. Nor has my immediate or extended family ever been affected by such as event. I am open to the possibility that I might feel differently had I experienced such a tragedy personally.
But in the overwhelming majority of the time, it’s safe here despite the absence of absolute safety. Please know that absolute safety doesn’t exist and isn’t possible. So stop demanding it.