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12/14/12

dead people

At one o'clock this afternoon I was picking up two young daughters, aged six and eight, from their final day at school for the year and celebrating their success in year-end exams, as well as the start of the long Southern hemisphere summer vacation period that runs from now until March. Their school is a happy place, well-run and with a strong academic reputation (no need to tell me that I'm fortunate, that's something I already know) and while waiting at the gate while the final teachers' speeches went on ten minutes longer than were planned, the way they always tend to do, the weirdest thought flashed through my head. Just for a second I thought about those mass murder gun attacks that have happened sporadically in the USA and wondered if one could ever happen in my country of adoption, my city of dwelling or even in the school I was looking at right then and there.

Of course it couldn't, was the immediate and conclusive answer. But that thought occurred to me while an atrocity was taking place in a town thousands of miles away, unbeknown to me and my blissful ignorance. I have no doubt that my fleeting thought was sheer coincidence and there's not some sort of telepathic/holistic world conscience event behind it all, because sheer coincidences work like that and otherwise you'd have to deny the existence of coincidences, something that to my knowledge only happens in Argentina. 

The United States of America doesn't have the patent and exclusive rights to weirdos, idiots and dangerous minds. There are unstable people in the place where I live, but as in most any place their numbers are a tiny fraction of society as a whole. I'm quite sure that's true for just about every corner of The USA as well, with 99.999% (add some more nines if you wish, not the point) of people being honest, law-abiding and caring people. But what The USA does offer is the opportunity for that tiny minority of unstable and potentially dangerous to get its hands on extremely effective machines of death. I'm not talking about handguns that can murder a single person as quickly as anything else ever invented by man, those machines and devices are available here and in most every country in the world if you're determined enough to own one. This is about the type of weapon that today killed twenty children between the ages of six and ten years old, the same age range as the two people I picked up from school today, in their own school in a matter of seconds and without forgetting the seven (I believe, from latest news report) adults who also died at the hands of a single deranged and insane person.

I do not have a dog in the fight when it comes to the rights of US citizens to carry arms, that one is up to you people to decide and I'm absolutely neutral on the issue. If you want a handgun on your hip, a rifle in your hands, a shotgun to protect your house and your loved ones that's your call and I honestly don't care, not in the practical or in the abstract. But please, for the sake of basic common sense and the need to keep your social fabric from being ripped even further asunder, you have stop the general sale and availability of semiautomatic and automatic weapons to the general public. This isn't party politics, it's not going to make for wholesale redundancies at Glock or Smith & Wesson, nobody will be denied their chance to shoot off rounds at the range or at some ducks this weekend. The bigger, existential questions about "why this happens in modern society" won't get answered either and again, it's not my problem and you guys can (or might) work those big issues out in your own time. The banning of semiautomatic and automatic weapons won't stop murders either and won't stop people like the insane person today from walking into a school and shooting children dead. But there wouldn't be 27 bodies now. No way, not even close.

As a child it was a normal thing to look up to The United States of America. It would be nice if you could regain that mantle so that, in the near future, my daughters of eight and six could feel the same way as I used to feel. Allowing what happened today to happen again because of the easy availability of weapons of mass murder, not just murder, will further tarnish the reputation of the country and be in no doubt whatsoever, until The USA makes a tough choice or two the killings will repeat and just one more episode like today's will mean that the twenty children aged between six and ten years old who were slaughtered today all died in vain.

PS: No comments will be accepted below this post, neither agrees nor disagrees, as I have no interest whatsoever in watching the same ridiculous back-and-forth develop on this blog that is seen in thousands of other places.