NOVEMBER 18 — “I have a very strict gun control policy: If there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.” — Clint Eastwood
Last week’s shooting in a school in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, was the 368th mass shooting of the year in the US.
This already means that there will be more mass shootings than there are days in 2019 (see note 1). In addition, school shootings are rising rapidly.
As a teacher, I’m relieved to say that in Malaysia the most dangerous things we have to fear are bullying, swimming pools, dengue and difficult exams.
As a Malaysian, I’m doubly glad we have no 2nd Amendment in our Constitution or the National Rifles Association (NRA). We only have ethnic institutional “favouritism” enshrined in our Constitution and groups like Isma, and that’s already trouble enough.
Still, a 30-second clip of motorcycle-helmeted dudes with parangs threatening mamak shop customers already scares the shit out of me; I can’t imagine these same fellas walking around with Rugers or Glocks.
It seems to me, from the outside looking in, that the situation over there in the US seems hopeless, not least because of the politicization by all sides.
Certainly no caring liberal or conservative wishes to see any more innocent people (let alone children) die from a psycho shooting up classrooms.
But each time a shooting occurs, the Left and Right will do that silly dance in which everyone else is to blame except themselves.
The Democrats will play up the strong Republican ties to the NRA and their well-known objection to gun laws, all the while ignoring the fact that many of their (the Dems’) own constituencies aren’t necessarily the least violent areas in the States.
Plus, of course, what exactly did Barack Obama achieve in this area?
The Republicans, needless to say, have nothing to say except the usual 2A pronouncements and the bullshit-sounding, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
By that kind of logic, why not grant every 19-year-old legal access to laser-guided missiles if they can afford it? You know, in case he has to take down a horde of gangsters threatening his apartment?
Clearly, a violent person with an axe can in no way do the same kind of damage as that done at Columbine High in ‘99; nor can an obsessive homophobe take 49 lives without the Sig Sauer MCX kind of assault rifle the Orlando shooter possessed, and did so legally.
Unsurprisingly, all serious talk of gun control and gun laws in the States produces a vicious cycle of, well, how can the government take guns away from people who would never shoot up a school? Wouldn’t that reduce the average American’s ability to defend herself?
America, Land of the Uniquely Violent
It’s a tragedy that many Americans feel “defenceless” without their Smith & Wessons.
Malaysians should be glad we simply don’t have this problem at all. Nobody here panics because they can’t find their Colt rifles.
We only panic if we leave our smartphones at home or if Maxis goes down.
And yet maybe it’s this point which can help non-Americans understand the US. Maybe asking why millions of Americans still cherish their right to own guns and can’t seem to stop defending or even promoting the 2nd Amendment — despite the crazy number of mass shootings — is in fact to betray our failure to have been “soaked” in American culture and history.
If non-Malaysians ask why we love durians despite its God-awful stench, we’d laugh at them. If non-Malaysians tell us to give up our beloved nasi lemak or bak kut teh because these are becoming public health issues, we’d feel offended (and order some more in defiance).
And if anybody tells Malaysians drivers they can’t drive beyond 80 kmh from KL to Penang, that person better get off social media on pain of mass online bullying.
America, to recall my meagre US history, is a revolutionary state. It was birthed in conflict and has known little else.
Its founding fathers were descended from pilgrims fleeing persecution, there was war cum genocide with the natives, they rebelled against the more powerful British, there was a Civil War, the US was a key player in so many global clashes (not least WWI and WWII) and even now it’s practically the only global super-power cum “policeman.”
Essentially, violence is to America what unhealthy food is to Malaysia: A non-negotiable force of life we struggle with and know is dangerous yet can’t help being drawn to.
To be fair to the millions of families and individuals in the US who own guns, and who champion the 2A, imagine that you’ve been a gun-owner for decades.
You’ve never done anything wrong with your firearm; in fact, you may have even protected many people.
Now the State says they want to control your use or access to firearms, because other people have killed innocents with guns. This can easily strike you as a deep injustice.
Now, throw in a) the constitutional element, b) the fact that bad folks can themselves easily get guns and (as per above) c) the history and “culture” of Americans and their guns.
Is it any surprise that most American gun-owners will cling even more tightly to their AR-15s?
Boy, am I glad the visa to the States is about RM800. That, and the fact that my chest could be riddled with 0.30mms at any time, are a few reasons why I have zero regrets if I never set foot in the US again.
Note 1: In the US a “mass shooting” is defined as a shooting incident in which four or more people are killed (excluding the shooter).
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.