Click here to print page

America's love affair with guns

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Dear Editor,

I am a Jamaican who used to teach in public schools in south central Los Angeles and in other school districts in the USA. One day I innocently asked an American teacher colleague if he owned a gun. He replied: “You're crazy, man, I got guns.” In my naivety I was taken aback by his forthright and matter-of-fact reaction.

As I continued to teach in Los Angeles, I would encounter rival gang members. One afternoon, after school was dismissed, a fight was in progress outside the school gates. Rival gang members were involved. The school's security personnel went to confront the gang bangers and tried to disarm at least one of them who had been brandishing a gun. I got caught up in the mle and was also wrestling the gun out of the hands of one of the gangsters. We succeeded in doing so.

It was only after I had returned from the principal's office to give an account of what had happened that I began to tremble at the thought of my stupidity. I could have been killed, I thought, and over what?

Gun violence was, and is a routine among students and adults in the USA. I say all this to say that the use of guns in the USA has become as Americana as the 4th of July celebrations, Thanksgiving, baseball, basketball, and hot dogs.

Since my rude awakening of life in the USA, and about America's incestuous love affair with guns, and following the murder of those nine African Americans at a Charleston church in South Carolina by Dylann Roof in June 2015, I had to go out and purchase some guns, one of them a 9mm.

The problem, though, with owning guns is that if a guy comes at you with an AK- 47, or some other semi-automatic rifle, what use is a pea shooter, like a 9mm, against, say, an AR-15 rifle? What use is a gun, any gun in the hand of a civilian, when you are faced with the type of ambush and mass shooting that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday, October 1, 2017? When Stephen Paddock, from his lair, rained down rivers of molten lead on those festive and unsuspecting music lovers, assassinating 59 of them and wounding well over 500 revellers in his psychotic rage, even if some of those concert-goers had guns, what chance did they have against this Rambo-type of maniacal guy?

So, the problem here is: guns offer a false sense of security to those who rely on them for protection. And, on the other hand, for those who own Guns, they can become not only the instrument of their own death, but guns can and are used by psychopaths to senselessly destroy the lives of others.

America has yet to come to the realisation that those who live by the gun will die by the gun. This realisation must involve the recognition that exporting these dangerous weapons to our own shooters in Jamaica must cease.

George Garwood