Guest Post: What’s Your Number?
One of the great things about having kids is that they introduce you to things that didn’t exist when you were a kid. Things like Horrible Histories – a wonderful TV and book series all about the nasty bits of history, the stuff they don’t teach you in school. Did you know that one of the Pilgrims brought over several pairs of shoes but nobody thought to bring seeds or livestock? Did you know that in Tudor England, they thought eating fresh fruits and vegetables could give you the plague? Did you know that the Aztecs performed human sacrifice at a rate of 50,000 a year? They thought their gods demanded it; and so they would sacrifice six people an hour, or one person every ten minutes! I mean, of all the ludicrous beliefs! What sort of god wants a human sacrifice?
Did you know that in the US, more than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year?
Americans worship guns. The NRA are the High Priests, demanding more and more frequent sacrifices, all to appease the All-Mighty Worship of the 2nd Amendment. And you – you average Americans – are the fodder, the possible-human-sacrifice, whose life might be demanded to satisfy this blood-thirsty deity.
What’s your number?
In 2012, two weeks before Christmas, 20 six and seven year olds were shot dead. I cried then. My daughter was that age and I thanked God that I lived in a country with a common-sense approach to gun control. I was certain, then, that something would be done. Surely America wouldn’t be okay with 20 innocent first graders dying!
Instead, gun sales increased. Mass shootings did too. Last year there was a mass shooting every single day.
What’s your number?
A few days ago, 49 men and women were killed while enjoying a night out at a nightclub. And the reaction is so predictable: We have to do something! What can we do? But no, we can’t politicize this. We can’t talk about gun control. Then you move on, and the victims are forgotten – or, if they’re remembered, it’s with a quiet shake of the head and a forlorn, What a tragedy.
What’s your number?
When 91 Americans die each and every day because of gun violence, that’s not a tragedy. That’s something you allow to happen through your own inaction. You allow it to happen because you are too lazy, or too scared, or too intimidated by the NRA and groups like it. Groups which are in the pocket of the gun manufacturers. Groups which exist solely to promote the worship a false idol, the almighty gun.
So what’s your number?
I’m tired of the hand-wringing. I’m tired of the pretense. I’m tired of the same old responses, tragedy after tragedy, week after week.
There has to be a number. There has to be a number at which Americans sit up and think, No. This is enough. Our god is too blood-thirsty.
Tell me what that number is. Tell me, so that next week, when someone opens fire at a mall or at an amusement park, I can add it to the tally: We are 20 people closer to reaching that number where something is going to be done.
And don’t give me your tired old excuses. “Oh, but you don’t understand, American culture is just different!” American and Australian culture are very similar; their rank on the Hofstede charts is almost identical. Australians love their guns too; I have many friends who legally own and operate guns in Australia, and I support their rights to do so. And they think you guys are all crazy. “But the Second Amendment!” We accept limitations on every other form of freedom. There are limits to freedom of speech, limits to freedom of worship, limits to freedom of assembly. There can also be limits placed on the second amendment. “But planes and guns and knives kill people too!” But their primary purpose isn’t to kill. What else can you do with assault rifle? You can’t use it to hunt. “But they’d just find some other way to kill! They’d use bombs instead of guns!” The Boston Bombers killed 3 people with a bomb. Australia outlawed certain types of guns in 1996 and there hasn’t been a mass shooting here since. Guns kill more efficiently and more effectively than almost anything else. After 9/11 we banned box cutters; we refuse to do anything to address gun violence, although it is the equivalent of one 9/11 every 22 days.
Or if there is no number, be honest about that too: If you don’t care that this blood-thirsty false idol of yours demands more and more lives, if that’s an acceptable price to pay so that you can sleep with a military-grade weapon under your pillow, say so.
But stop pretending. Stop pretending that loving more, or being more kind, or accepting more, is the answer. Stop pretending that there is no answer. Stop pretending this is about mental health, or angry young men, or video games.
Stop pretending you give a sh**.