(Writing this while kind of tipsy, so if the result is nonsense, at least I know where I can put the blame... )
So I guess it was quite clear that some day I'd write something about this very topic, considering how much contact I have with US folks via this website. Guess I can just as well get it done now.
So there's this ever-recurring gun control debate in the US (well not just there, but it seems like this is the most prominent example) after every single fucking time someone lost his (sometimes also her, but mostly his) mind and gunned down a couple of people. There are those who fight the noble fight for stricter gun control, and there are those who either say (more or less politely) that gun control won't solve the issues, or who downright spew hatred against those evil evil ones who want to rob US folks of their constitutional right to own a gun.
Alrighty so what's my (old-Europe German) position on this?
Let's just take a look at what's the chain of events that leads to a killing spree shall we? As I see it this chain looks like this...
1. someone decides that the best course of action for her, for whatever reason, is to blow the brains out of some innocent people
2. that someone gets hold of a few guns (assuming that she doesn't have enough already)
3. that someone performs the murderous act, obviously overpowering whatever security is in place to protect innocents
4. after the bloodshed, people talk about it and the media report about it, in whatever way
5. (assuming the nutjob survives) there's a trial, whatever outcome it might have - that's a rare occurance as far as I can tell because most of the shooters either deliberately kill themselves or get killed by The Good Ones.
Now let's look at gun control. What items on this list can it affect? Maybe I'm wrong but thinking about it the only one seems to be #2. And for those (usually folks on the pro-gun side as far as I can tell) who call for increased security and armament, obviously that would be item #3. If I'm wrong, feel free to tell me so. Thanks.
Now what I'll focus on, for now at least, is items #1 and #4. These seem to receive precious little coverage in the US normally. Again, I may be wrong, and if I am, feel free to tell me (actually I'd like to extend this statement to the entire rest of this blog entry, just to keep things simple).
As for #4 - as I see it, how the media react to such a thing is probably more important than many people think. There's a thing called "copycat suicide" in English regarding cases of suicide and how media report about them; over here in Kraut country we call it the "Werther effect" after Goethe's infamous "the sufferings of Werther", a writing that in its own time spawned a spree of suicides among people who felt the story resonated within their own souls. As I understand it, it's pretty much an established fact that when the suicidal receive media coverage far and wide, more people feel motivated to kill themselves because they see that if all else fails this is a way to finally get noticed after, while they still were alive, no one paid any attention to them.
Is it absurd to wonder whether the same might be true with those who contemplate starting a killing spree?
I never studied the entirety of killing sprees (or "Amokläufe", literally "Amok runs" here in Germany) that happened, but from what I understood most of these people felt like hopeless losers in their lives. I'll assume here that they weren't born with suicidal/homicidal tendencies so what happened to make them act like that? Could it be that they desperately tried to make themselves heard and had the impression that no one ever listens?
Just imagine: What would happen if the mass media these days had some respect and a sense of responsibility for what their publishings might cause? What would happen if they reported what happened, but without mentioning the name or any details about the killer? If only we knew... but of course the mass media these days care about exactly three things, these being money, money and money. If it bleeds it leads, and the more they can shock us all emotionally the more they will sell. To they will do their best to tickle our horror funny bones so that we keep paying. And if for every one case they report they spawn five more, so much the better - keeps them in business.
But of course, if you kept reading this far you really want to know what I'm thinking about #1 on my above list. Right?
So okay, here goes.
Now, I won't claim, and I don't think, that all Americans are insane gun nuts. Tip of the hat to people on this very site, people like Nivek, who I am fully willing to see as responsible citizens who may own guns but know how to use them, and more important, when to (not) use them. If you feel offended by what I'll write now, please at least try to keep this in mind will you? Thanks.
But really, what does owning a gun (or two, or thirteen, or whatever number) mean to Americans?
Okay I know about that infamous 2nd amendment, and I concede that if you say that it's your goddamn fucking right to own a gun you have a right to defend against attempts of... whomever... to take them from you.
But, like I mentioned in one posting not too long ago, what's the benefit of this amendment really, in these present days? Alright you can defend much better against a criminal than you could without a gun, but ignoring the usual media hype for the moment, how rampant is crime really in the States? How many times does the average American really get into a situation where her life or death may depend on having a gun? From what I've learned from non-mainstream sources, the risk is pretty small indeed. So why arm yourselves to the teeth? What's in it really what motivates at least some US citizens to (seemingly) not feel like complete human beings without having some tools at hand that can blow a deadly hole into another human within a heartbeat?
Then there's the claim that US citizens need guns to defend against the government just in case it becomes tyrannical. I'll not argue about whether your current government already is tyrannical because that's not the topic of this posting, but let's just assume that you are indeed living in a totalitarian nightmare state and Them (ya know, those of the government) are planning to take you and your guns right now. What are your chances?
I'm confident that a person who has guns and knows how to use them may well be able to fight off some cops. But what will happen after she did? When will one of those infamous SWAT teams be called in? Or three? Or your just-as-infamous national guard, or still worse? How much armament would you need to win a fight against those?
Bottom line of it all, yeah dammit you have the right to own guns, your constitution says so. But is that part of the constitution still reasonable? And while we are at that, what exactly is the difference in mentality that leads to Americans not only loving guns so much, but actually (seemingly?) using them much quicker than... dunno... pretty much anyone else unless they live in a war zone? Ain't that really the root of the problem?
Isn't it really more a question of mentality?
Of course if we assume that this is true, there's another nasty issue following right in the previous one's footsteps. If mentality is the problem what's the solution? Can there be any solution that is not, in some way, to some degree, brainwashing? And is that acceptable? When? For how much of a price?
But that's a topic that, I think, I shouldn't tackle right now. I'll need some time to think about what my position on this is.
And I guess I should sober up too.