About The “Arm Everyone” Mentality

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Connecticut and the senseless loss of 27 lives, I’m sure I’m one of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will be blogging about shootings, guns, gun control, Americans, mental health and/or tragedy today, but I’m going to do it anyway. I have a lot to say on the issue. Who doesn’t?

I lived in the US for 11 years, and admit that at no time in that 11 years, did I fear for my safety, or think I was going to be shot dead. But I did work with 1200 children and their families, and I occasionally would think, “If one of these parents got angry enough, could they walk in here and kill us all?” Because in America, you never know who has a gun. I’m not sure American authorities know who has guns.

In Australia, we walk around in fair confidence that no one will stand up in a movie theater, school, shopping centre, restaurant and open fire on everyone. We have that fair confidence because the last time something like that happened, in Port Arthur in 1996, our government took action and established the 1996 National Agreement on Firearms. You can read about it more at the wikipedia article here. It clearly worked, as that is the last time an assault like that happened in our country.

These kinds of laws could very well save thousands of lives in the US. However the US has a little thing called a Constitution, in which the 2nd amendment (1791ish) states that all citizens have “the right to bear arms.” Keeping in mind the Constitution was written in the 1700s by men who thought it was OK to keep slaves and that women were second class citizens. It was also written in the civil war era. Many Americans take their right to bear arms very seriously and in fact think that everyone should own a firearm. That way people will be deterred from attacking others – for fear of retaliation. I’m not kidding, this is the mentality of (too) many Americans. I’ve read arguments this morning from “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” to “teachers should be armed, then this won’t happen.” Again, the theory being if a crazed gunman knows the teachers all have guns, he won’t go in and try to shoot anyone.

And that’s the first problem right there – assuming these crazy nut-jobs who do these things have any kind of rational or common sense thought. They don’t. No rational person walks into a school and shoots 20 innocent children.

The second problem is assuming that because a teacher is armed, casualties in these situations will be much fewer. Because the ultimate goal shouldn’t be less casualties, it should be less none of these situations in the first place! And also because they are teachers, not snipers. Do you think an armed man can walk into a classroom and out of the corner of his eye, the teacher spots him, draws his gun and shoots him dead before he can do anything? Are you living in La-La Land? Watched too many movies? Maybe we should just put Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalikes in all classrooms as protection?

The third, and biggest problem is thinking the mentality of “if we are all armed, no one will try anything for fear of retaliation” is ok. It is not ok. I should be free to go wherever I want without worrying about having to carry a gun so no one attacks me. If I wanted to live like that I’d move to Afghanistan/Serbia/Syria/{insert preferred war-torn-country-here}. This is not the culture I want to live in and it’s not the culture I want my child to live in.

In China, 22 children were stabbed by a mentally-ill intruder. None of them have died, though 1 plus the teacher are in critical condition. China has strict gun laws. And as a friend of mine said, “Thank God, or we’d have woken up in Australia to the news of 2 mass shootings.”

I think there is a place for guns. Hunting, target shooting, farming, law enforcement, military. I’m not even opposed to legal, responsible ownership of guns (but I don’t encourage it or like it). I AM opposed to how easy it is for people to get guns (in the US) and I AM opposed to the mentality that if more people were armed there’d be less violence. That is 1+1=3 maths. The shooter in the Aurora movie theater back in July had so much gun paraphernalia it is scary. Much of which he ordered ONLINE. Make it harder to get weapons, and less of these shootings would happen. Make it harder to get weapons, and maybe 20 children would be in school right now, getting excited about the upcoming Christmas holidays.

My thoughts and prayers are for peace, healing and comfort for all the families who have lost loved ones today.


14 thoughts on “About The “Arm Everyone” Mentality

  1. I’m just so, so sad. I can’t read or watch anymore – it makes me feel sick for tthose involved and their families.
    I’m a fan of strict gun control – but I also do not live, and never have lived, in the States so understand that it’s not as simple as here.
    I wonder – if it’s that difficult to change a constitutional law/right and, obviously, a cultural belief system, – can’t one aspect be changed or amended in the short term? In that I mean – I don’t understand why anyone (apart from the military or maybe law enforcement) needs a semi automatic? You don’t need one to protect yourself, target shoot, farm or to hunt. Why does the average person need a semi? Just don’t get that.
    Really thought provoking and well written post, Aroha.
    It’s just so, so sad.

    • Actually Mandie, a lot of pistols (aka concealable weapons) used in competition shooting are semi-automatic because of rapid-fire and live-action competition. What’s more, a semi is a lot more useful when hunting – especially when hunting small vermin such as foxes at night. Personally I’m preferable to pistols over rifles for that exact reason.

      However, that said, here in Australia we have to PROVE beyond a reasonable doubt that our weapons will be used for a legal reason (destruction of pests/vermin on farms, humane destruction of injured animals on farms, target, rapid fire & clay shooting competition, etc.).

      Regardless of the fact that we already owned guns, it still took us 6mths to purchase our latest, including 7 different pieces of paperwork (including rural property ownership proof & permission to shoot on the land & proof of current participating memberships to a SSAA approved club) two separate inspections of our property and safes (because the weapon, ammunition, and firing pins have to be stored separately), AND a long waiting period.

      And no – it wasn’t even a concealable or semi-auto weapon.

      As annoying as it was for us (and the poor agent who has to hold weapons under sale thereby limiting the number of available weapons he can store on the shelf), we understand and agree with the restrictions.

      It SHOULD be hard to buy a weapon. It SHOULD take months to purchase a manual-action gun. It SHOULD take over a year to purchase a semi-auto. It SHOULD be nigh on impossible to purchase an automatic weapon.

      It SHOULD be even harder than it is now in Australia.

      The USA SHOULD have the same, if not tighter, restrictions too!

  2. It is absolutely horrendous that this should happen anywhere. I really have no words, it is just so so terrible and I can’t imagine what the families are going through right now. Really thought provoking post, I know I don’t know the ins and outs, but for the life of me I really don’t understand why there is this huge need in the U.S for everyone to have guns, I will never understand the mentality. Never.

    • I think a lot of people think they are “safer” if they have a gun to protect themselves from all the other crazies with guns. Unfortunately it’s just not the case and is not that simple! Violence and violent weapons breeds violence! Absolutely senseless and I don’t think anyone will ever be able to answer the question “why?!?!” Unfair, shit, there are just no words to describe how bad it is.

  3. I came across your post very randomly while searching how to name the colors in a sunset. I lived in the US for almost 8 years before moving to Spain (I’m an Australian). Unfortunately, you are right in that gun laws need to be amended, however they NEVER will be, regardless of this tragedy or a million others that might happen, because, it is the right of every American to bear arms. If this right is amended, then it opens limitless possibilities for ANY or all of the rights to be amended, which given that the Constitution is the founding document that America lives by, will not happen.

    I believe it is about control but ACCESS to our children! Anyone can walk into a school in the US with a concealed weapon (unless those schools have detectors…usually the gang areas though) and access the children and staff.

    We live in Spain now, and our 4 year old son has been to both a private and public Spanish school, and as is the strict security policy of ALL schools in Spain, the gates (10 foot, often higher & too thin to pass through) that surround the entire school remain deadlocked from 9:20am when surrounded by parents to 2:00pm, when the parents collect the children. Outside of those times, any visitors, parents included, MUST walk to an entirely separate area away from the children and access via intercom another deadlocked 10 foot gate, then sign in, then have an escort walk them back to the other 10 foot gate and open it. You get where I’m going with this???? ACCESS is DIFFICULT, not impossible (impossible doesn’t exist if someone is determined enough), but it’s a bloody hell of an obstacle, one that gives TIME to alert and possibly prevent such a tragedy.

    If airport security is so strict that a Swiss Army Knife can’t get through, and if it does, a hoard of armed security would slam down on the holder, yet in our schools where defenseless children and staff WITHOUT guns or personal security guards, ANYONE can simply walk into the classrooms.

    For Australians, being outside, free is part of our lifestyle, as it is in America, so the idea of boarding up the schools in 10 foot high fences may not be the most appealing or cost effective of thoughts, but there MUST be a strict change in how ANYONE can access our children!

    It breaks my heart that this and may other tragedies (mostly in America) had may outlets for prevention!

  4. Aroha, I agree with everything you have said here. I have never understood the support for weapons in the US and the belief that everyone should bear arms. People can make whatever claims they like but statistics don’t lie and it is clear that the US has a greater gun crime problem than elsewhere. It’s not rocket science. I hope the politicians have the guts to take a stand against the gun lobby because this situation cannot be allowed to continue and threaten more innocent lives. A very thoughtful post on a very painful topic Aroha.

  5. We live on a farm – I hate guns we don’t own any – our neighbours are crazy, stupid young guys who can legally shoot kangaroos (and illegally letterboxes ).
    They frighten me when I hear them shooting close by and I wouldn’t want to cross them , though they give us plenty of reason to.

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