I don't know why I am doing this. I don't know why I am sitting here at midnight, preparing to write a journal about gun control. I have written about gun control in the past. My first attempt was when I was 17 and I remember my confusion as I was screamed at through cyberspace. I couldn't understand their fear.
Actually, I do know why I am doing this. Because I am sad. Because something very sad has happened a very long way away from my peaceful little bedroom in Melbourne, Australia and because, while I understand sadness, I want you to know that I still don't fully understand that fear which makes people scream and bring weapons into their own homes.
Here is something beautiful: In any Internet debate on Gun Control in the US, you can always find a voice from across the seas reminding Americans that 'it works for us'. There are two ways to look at this. You could call it 'ignorance'. 'They don't know us. They don't know how it works. They don't know our history. How safe it feels to hold a gun.' This is all true. We don't. We are far away. I write this having never held a gun. And every country IS different. America's history is peppered with reasons to imbue underprivileged men and women with a distrust of police and of the legal system. I have recently finished reading 'Slavery by Another Name' by Douglas A. Blackman. It is a history of slavery in America since the abolition of slavery. Peonage. Wrongful conviction. Convicts 'sold' to private companies by States. As an Australian, I cannot begin to comprehend what centuries of mistrust can do to a community. So you can dismiss us.
But this is the other view you can take of these distant voices of ours: we are telling you 'it's okay. It's not as scary as it seems, living without guns in your home.' It's actually quite lovely.
I think it is a bit like when countries abolish capital punishment: Here in Australia (and this story is echoed all around the world), the majority of the population was still pro-capital punishment at the time of it's abolition. Within 20 years, it seemed barbaric to all but a small percentage of the population. Sometimes it is hard for countries to imagine life without something that they are so use to. So many Americans cannot imagine life without guns. It is so very much a part of their national identity and seems to play a big part in how safe they feel. In their minds, life without guns involves hordes of criminals running rampant through the streets and the decent citizens cowering in their homes, unprotected.
So this is the beautiful thing: it is not like that. It isn't all perfect but we feel safe and I think that, if you gave it a chance, you might too. It has been less than 20 years since the horrific Port Arthur Massacre led to massive restrictions on firearms in Australia and if a politician suggested making guns more accessible to the public I honestly think they would be laughed out of parliament.
Perhaps America needs people to stand up and say 'are we really that scared?' Perhaps it needs to look around at other first world nations and say 'are they as scared as us?'
I write from far away, America. I write with a cat on my lap, slightly drunk from dinner with friends. I write without ever having stepped foot in your country so I can't possibly understand what it feels like to be you. But I can tell you what it feels like to be me: it feels safe.
My deepest sympathies to everyone touched by the Colorado massacre. I do not mean to use this tragedy as a platform but I have nothing to offer you but my words and I hope that they gave you, if nothing else, a little hope.
Humbly and with deepest respects,
My apologies for not responding to everyone's comments yet. I am just in a really hectic period but I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments (and the thoughtful way in which you have expressed them) and I promise I will get to you all soon!
Listening to: Sigur Ros
Reading: Too much
Drinking: White wine