Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Trouble shooting.

In Texas an eleven year old boy looked out of his window and asked his eight year old neighbour if he could look at the puppies he had heard she had just got. When she said no he went and got his father's shotgun and shot her in the chest. They tried to save her life but failed. Who teaches an eleven year old to respond with such an action? What was his father doing leaving a gun where his son could get hold of it? 

Some police shootings of civilians in the USA are being described as "suicide by cop". The "suicidal" civilian provokes the police into a standoff, does not actually fire a shot but causes the police to shoot him. What happened to disarming or shooting to disable? 

I find these reported events quite disturbing! In many ways these people, who speak the same language as us, are amazingly alien. 

Having said that, I was equally disturbed by photos of sharp shooters on the tops of buildings in Manchester observing Sunday's protest demonstrations against the Tories and their conference. One excuse was that you get a better view of the crowd through the sights of a gun than you do through binoculars. Really? No suggestion that they might pick off trouble makers and frighten the rest into going home? 

(I was tied up with family obligations and did not take part in the rallies. A large number of my friends did though. Huge numbers turned out and the protests still continue today. In Manchester this afternoon I did not see anybody famous, or indeed anybody obviously connected with the conference. Mind you, I didn't go very near the conference venue so it's not really surprising. There was a helicopter hovering over the conference venue but you didn't need to get very close to see that.) 

On the other end of the gun question, Jessica Valenti was writing in the Guardian about a question her daughter asked. They have this routine at bedtime where the little girl can ask about anything that worries her. In this case it was guns. Do guns exist "in real life" the worried five year old wanted to know, as if she thought, or maybe hoped, they were only for the baddies in stories. So they had a little talk about it and the questions only got harder from there. The little girl, quite logically, wanted to know why, if guns hurt people, they were “allowed.” She wanted to know if only the good guys have guns, and if cops are good guys. Still living in a fairy tale situation! 

I remember trying to put off the day when my children would have toy guns. I didn't think they were appropriate. (Mind you, I didn't think Barbie dolls were appropriate either!) My children grew up with very little television. We didn't have a set and so they only saw it occasionally at other people's houses. And yet they still learnt to shape their little fists into gun shapes and play shooting games. Eventually, after watching them make guns out of stickle bricks, among other things, and after my young brother in law bought them water pistols one summer's afternoon, I gave in. But we did have some conversations about the rights and wrongs of it. 

How much harder must that be in a country where it is accepted that quite ordinary people own guns?

No comments:

Post a Comment