I’ve just been reading an article in last Saturday’s Guardian called Young Guns, all about youth gun culture in America. Only this isn’t the kind of youth gun culture - connected to gangs and drugs - that might come to mind for most Europeans.
This is youth gun culture initiated, encouraged and glorified by parents and involving children as young as 2 and 3 years old.
This is youth gun culture driven by the National Rifle Association as part of it’s campaigns to uphold the 2nd Amendment - the right to bear arms.
This is youth gun culture that is inextricably linked to republican patriotism and being a “real” American, and with echoes of Bush’s “you’re either with us or against us” speech.
This is youth gun culture which to me is total madness.
The thing I find most disturbing is that in the last ten years around 29,000 children under 18 have been killed by firearms in the US. That is very nearly 8 every single day, or 1 in 26,000 of the under 18 population per year. By comparison in the UK in 2007 there were 7 under 18s killed by firearms, or 1 in about 170,000 under 18s.
Many of those killed in America were normal everyday kids. Every one of the UK killings had some element of gang relatedness - albeit that some of those killed were completely innocent bystanders who were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I cannot understand how parents can be so ????? as to encourage their children in this, and to believe they are standing passionately for a “human right” to bear arms, in the face of such massive evidence of the danger it places their children in and the tragic consequences for so many families. Btw, I’m really not sure what the right word is to replace those question marks - I find myself wanting to use words like ignorant, stupid, bigoted, but it is actually a lot more complex than that.
It is too easy to be a patronising liberal European and dismiss these parents as dumb - just part of the 40% or so of the US population who (again in the face of massive evidence to the contrary) believe in creationism and who voted for George W Bush - twice.
But these are people who love their children, their country and their version of freedom. The thing I find so difficult to get my head around is that they show it by saying of their 8 year old "Do you think anyone would try violence on my boy if they knew he could hit them between the eyeballs at 20 paces?" - that, to me, is where it get’s really frightening and more than a little bit weird.
Do take a look at the article by clicking on the Young Guns link here or at the top of the page.
And also let me know what you think by commenting here.


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