There’s something seriously wrong with America’s second Amendment to their praised constitution. I’ve heard numerous mentions of how fantastic this document is over the years and how brilliant it has been for ensuring democracy in the country. The problem isn’t the document though, it’s the way it’s been held up as a totem of all that is good and great about the United States of America. It’s almost heretical to criticise their founding fathers’ document, perhaps more so than criticising the Bible in many parts of the country. And why?
Because people are stuck in their ways.
Not all Americans of course, there has been a constant debate about guns in the USA for decades (probably centuries) but unfortunately, they’re here to stay. And today, the release of shocking footage of a nine-year-old girl training to use an Uzi sub-machine gun has brought these problems into the fore once again. It may well be common in Arizona to see a young girl toting a very dangerous weapon but to me, this is not only a ridiculously stupid thing to do but also a semi-repulsive idea. Westerners regularly criticise the way children are used to fight conflicts in Africa; posters daubed with children armed with AK47s and slogans asking how wrong it is are a common occurrence here. It is shocking. Children should be out playing hide and seek, or telling each other scary stories, or building tree houses at nine years old, not learning to defend themselves or being forced to defend themselves. It’s outrageous that this girl had access to a weapon, and therefore not surprising that there was an accident in which someone lost his life.
I would like to think that this incident is isolated but I’m sure that’s not true. Our society regularly criticises people for indoctrinating their youth abroad; whether it’s Islamic fundamentalists indoctrinating their young to believe that Westerners are evil or tribes in Africa insisting that white doctors are there to curse them, not cure them of diseases like Ebola and AIDS, it’s hard to see past the dogma spread across the globe.
But we are exactly the same. The Westboro Baptists hand a signs saying “God Hates Fags” to their children (read here for a new movement to counter the Westboro baptists with kindness) and Arizonan parents let their children go to shoot an Uzi at a shooting range because it is their right as an American to “bear arms”. There is clearly something wrong with the way we bring up our children. And don’t think Brits are innocent either; it could be spreading the idea that “foreigners steal our jobs” or that we shouldn’t talk about what teachers did to us in our private school in the 70s because it’s not the “English thing to do” or uncover what happened in the Pakistani community of Rotherham in case we upset the status quo and anger people. We are all guilty of perpetrating ideas which are detrimental to our children’s futures.
In the handing over of a gun to a nine year old, most of us expect something disastrous to happen so let’s remember that the same is true of the handing of our dogmatic beliefs to our children. More than one shooting instructor’s life may be on the line.