I was having coffee with friends this morning when the news of yet another US school shooting popped up on the news. It’s deeply saddening to hear of it. More children dead, more teachers dead.
Obviously, I live in Australia. We have our own share of violence, like every nation, but not this kind. There were two police and a neighbour killed deliberately by people in QLD relatively recently. Australia found this incredibly shocking. Our worst gun violence was the Port Arthur Massacre, which eventually led to a change in gun laws in Australia.
I’ve been to the memorial in Port Arthur. It’s a strange place in many ways – initially a place of brutality to convicts, and memorialised as such, and now a memorial of a modern day massacre. Which ever way you look at it, it’s deeply, deeply, moving, and deeply, deeply, disturbing. It is, however, a reminder that we can choose a different way.
Sadly, when I heard about the massacre at the Covenant School in Nashville, my mind immediately turned to the ways that some people in the US will respond.
Firstly, there will be some who will say things like ‘And that’s why I always carry a gun. It wouldn’t happen if we all carried guns.’
Secondly, others will say: ‘We should make sure our teachers are armed. That way, the gunman wouldn’t be able to do such things. He’d be dead.”
Thirdly, others will say: Thoughts and prayers.
My response goes like this:
I live in a country where it’s never crossed my mind that my children might be shot at school.
I live in a country where it’s never crossed my mind that I, or any of my loved ones, might get shot by an armed gunman.
I live in a country where I never even contemplate carrying a gun.
For perspective, I did shoot an air rifle on one day at highschool when I was thirteen, on some kind of try-stuff-out-day, at a target. That sums up my entire personal experience with guns.
And before you write me off as naive, I will point out that I live in a rural area, and have no issues with farmers having guns, nor others who do sporting shooting activities in appropriate facilities. As long as you’re licensed, store your weapons as prescribed in a locked gun cabinet, and your ammunition is also stored appropriately, it’s not an issue. Fortunately, since post-Port Arthur, we’ve had gun laws outlawing automatic type weapons. This is one reason I’ll never vote for any political party who wants to reduce our gun control laws.
For the Australian perspective on guns, I’ll point you to this Australia comedian who sums up the Australian incomprehension of the US love of guns really well. (Language Warning)