I was looking forward to writing a lighter post, then the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas happened last Tuesday… The children who died were the same age as my child, so the reverberation and the disorientation ran deep into my core.
Many Americans I know value and practice kindness with much more intention than my fellow French citizens. I wrote about this in a previous post and I experience it everyday — in my neighborhood, at Minette‘s school, and in my circle of friends.
But America is also the country where 214 mass shootings have happened since the beginning of 2022. America is the country where the number of civilian firearms per capita is by far the highest in the world: 120 guns per 100 people. Next in this dark ranking? Yemen with 52 guns per 100 people… (In France it is “only” 20.)
Even more shockingly, America is a nation that allows mass shootings to happen again and again and again. Congress has failed to renew the Federal Assault Weapon Ban enacted in 1994 and expired in 2004. Only seven states currently ban assault weapons.
It is hard for me to make sense of the violence — even harder to accept that lawmakers cannot summon the courage and determination to make it stop, even if it must cost some of them their next mandate. It is true many constituencies are resolutely against gun control, but the majority of the population is now increasingly in favor of common-sense gun laws, so the disconnect is even more jarring, along with the lack of moral compass among too many legislators.
As a European, I am at a loss to understand how a developed country in the 21st century can let itself be defined by unhindered psychotic violence. As someone who has lived in the United States for nearly 20 years, I believe I should always remember this country has been good to me in many ways. Mass shootings, however, are a subject I don’t think I can politely avoid just because of this.
This is the country of Minette. Appa and I want it to do its best to protect her and all American children. That’s the reason why we emailed our American friends last week to ask them to urge their Congress people to prioritize and actively push for gun control legislation and, why we did so ourselves on behalf of our American daughter.
I hope we will see the shift so many people are calling for in our lifetime but I know by now it is entirely possible we will not.
3 Replies to “Somewhere Between Kindness and Madness”
When the Columbine shooting happened in 1999, my daughter was the same age as those killed there. I still remember my fear and anxiety. Now, with this shooting, my only granddaughter is 10 months old. Every time I hold her, the joy is mixed with fear.
Things have actually gotten a lot worse since columbine. Guns and the semi automatic weapons seem to be out of control. And I am losing hope that the senate will do anything.
It is hard to make sense of a reality so brutal and obvious. I recently heard reporters and interviewees discussing this in an Economist podcast. Remarks by Ryan Busse, former firearms executive turned safety campaigner and policy advisor to Gabbie Giffords, are particularly compelling. The Busse interview starts about 5 minutes in, but the whole episode is worth hearing I think. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/checks-and-balance-from-the-economist/id1494037881?i=1000564213603
I’m not sure if that link was helpful. I refer to the Economist’s ‘Checks and Balance’ podcast, the May 27 episode titled Unbearable.