So I open the paper on Friday morning, and on Page B1 I am faced with “10 people killed in College Mass Shooting.” Ho, hum. Unhappy as this may be for the families of the victims, the statistics don’t care. There have been 994 mass shootings in the US in the last three years. 294 mass shootings this year so far. That’s more than one per day. And then there’s the individual murders. And the suicides. 92 Americans are killed every day by guns. Inside the country. Or is it 289? Or 30? Depends on who you ask, how they collect their statistics, whether they include suicides.
What’s the Point?
These statistics only make the gun-dependent more afraid. Afraid people aren’t logical, and they think selfishly. “Guns may be the cause of all this violence, but with all this violence, I need my gun.” One of the students in the college where the latest attack took place was quoted as saying, “If one of us had been carrying a ‘concealed’ maybe only one or two people would have been killed.” With this sort of attitude, breaking this cycle is a huge challenge, and even Barak Obama, try as he will, isn’t making much progress.
How About Canada?
One source says we had 59 people killed by guns in 2012. That’s right, all year. Or maybe it’s 173. Not bad, compared to US, but not good compared to, for example, England and Wales with 22, France with 35, and New Zealand with only 7.
Why Aren’t We Doing Better?
Turn the page. Vancouver Sun, Page B2. The headline? “Canada Absent on Illegal Arms – Gun-owner concerns kept Tories from signing global deal.”
That’s right. The Arms Trade Treaty, an international attempt to combat the flow of illicit weapons. Our dear government refused to sign it. Why? Because they were “concerned with the impact on domestic gun owners.” Let me see, who might these gun owners be? Not key grassroots Conservative supporters, perhaps?
And speaking of Conservative supporters, a headline in the Ottawa Citizen last year provides another reason. “Canadian Weapons Exports Reach New Levels.” $1.04 billion in 2013. Our favourite customer? That great bastion of democracy, Saudi Arabia.
Other customers? Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, India, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.
There is simply no excuse for such a huge contribution to violence in the world. Don’t tell me that if we don’t supply them, someone else will. Don’t tell me that it’s a free world, and we can sell what we like, as long as it’s legal. (Anybody remember my post last week on the topic of trusting the business world to do what’s best for the rest of us? In the arms trade, I’d say that goes double.)
And not signing a deal to clamp down on the illegal movement of weapons stinks of more than hypocrisy. It could be seen as fear of discovery.
At this moment we live in a society that condones violence. Our neighbors to the south are far worse, but we can’t point any fingers. Violence is allowed in sports, is rewarded by many levels of society, especially our High Schools, and is condoned in the rest of the world, as long as we can make money from it.
I think I once read something about reaping what you sow. Wise words.
One can’t help but remember the Americans going into Iraq and facing weapons they had given the Iraqis. Same situation in Syria at the moment. And how about those guys we’re arming right now to fight ISIS? Which side will they be on in five years?
Why All the Mass Shootings in Schools?
Unless they are taught otherwise, a certain percentage of children will bully others. Experience tells us that a certain percentage of the victims will, in their turn, become bullies. And a certain – albeit very small – percentage of victims will lose their sense of perspective and look for another way to stand up for themselves. In a country like Canada where there are 31 firearms for every 100 people, they don’t have to go very far. In the US the ratio is 89 per hundred. That’s almost one for everyone, though I doubt if many of those owners are the sharing types.
So don’t be surprised when the worm turns. When society is sane, there are a very few people crazy enough to commit mass murder. The more violent society gets, the higher percentage of unstable people there are who will become violent.
PS Latest headline on Saturday: US Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan.
Ho, hum. Collateral damage.