Mexico has a reputation for being a dangerous place, especially when you talk to people living in the United States. It has a reputation for violent crime and drug trafficking and illegal migrants. A couple of years ago I travelled south across the border to the Baja Peninsular in Mexico. Below was the warning we were given as we headed south:
Above: Advise given to Americans crossing the border to Mexico
While Mexico does have a reputation as being dangerous, for many Mexicans they equally have fears about their northern neighbour. Specifically they are concerned that the United States Government has failed to pass adequate gun control laws, and consider this to be very dangerous. The Mexican Government in the interest of public safety of heavily police the US border for guns. As the above shows, it severely punishes those who try to bring weapons into Mexico.
Today the news reported that 17 high school students have been killed in a mass shooting in Parkland Florida. There have been 291 school shootings in the United States since 2013. Today’s shooting is the 8th school shooting resulting in injury or death in 2018, 7 weeks into the school year.
Calls for US gun control laws are nothing new. After former Beatle John Lennon was murdered in New York in 1980 there was calls for tighter gun control. But the 1776 US Constitution second amendment protects the rights of gun owners:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This constitutional freedom apparently extends to semi automatic weapons designed solely for the purpose of mass killing. The fact that such weapons were invented long after the second amendment was written is irrelevant, apparently. That the perpetrator of this horrendous killing in Floria was not part of a ‘well regulated Militia’ again is apparently irrelevant. This individual had the constitutional right to own the weapon he used.
This highlights yet again the folly of having a constitution that fails to adapt and grow with the times. Specifically it has failed to protect American citizens from gun violence. The US could implement gun control. It isn’t an easy process, but it could repeal the second amendment. There is growing public support for tighter gun control in the USA. But weak political leadership has failed to put the US gun lobby in its place – that place being prison for aiding mass murder.
I don’t have much positive to say about the John Howard Liberal Government of Australia from 1996 to 2007. However the gun control laws this government implemented after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 are a model for the rest of the world. These laws require all guns in Australia to be registered to an owner. Gun owners are heavily vetted and any breach of the law will see all guns confiscated. When gun owners wish to get rid of their weapons, the state will buy them back at market value. The result has been a sharp decline in gun violence in Australia.
The counter argument to stronger gun control is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I can’t disagree with this. While strong gun controls laws are needed, we also need to look at why people commit these horrific mass murders. While stopping perpetrators gaining access to these weapons may reduce the number of fatalities, these people can still harm people with other weapons such as knives. We need to understand why people become so alienated and full of anger and hate that they would do these terrible things. The US need tighter gun control laws. But this is only part of the solution.