Dear Barack Obama,
I woke up this morning to the devastated faces of the parents of the victims in the latest shooting in your country. Six more people have been violently killed whilst going about their normal lives, by a 22-year-old man who blamed his female classmates for ‘depriving him of sex’ and therefore ‘needed punishing.’ Six people were killed in less than ten minutes. Ten minutes. How did things get so bad that a 22-year-old man who’s angry at how his life has unfolded can kill six people?
As an Australian mother of two young children, I watch the news of these shootings and share in the grief of the parents. I also thank my lucky stars I live in Australia and not America. Here’s why you might recall a bloke named John Howard? He wasn’t the most popular Prime Minister but he left behind a legacy that really mattered. His government bought back and destroyed more than 700,000 guns and introduced tough gun laws, following the Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were killed. That was enough for the Australian government to step up and change the course of our country’s future. It wasn’t easy for him politically, he faced strong opposition from within his own party and staunch Liberal voters, but he did it.
What will it take you, Mr Obama? What will it take the American government to change the course of its future? Yes you have one heck of a fight ahead of you, both politically and personally, but isn’t that your job?
It feels like history repeating when we read about these shootings in the US. Almost immediately the Gun Lobby’s overused and stale defensive quote appears in the news, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Well yes, guns do kill people, when they are handled by people. It’s like this – people like Elliot Rodger (the gunman in this latest shooting) will always exist. Whether he was clinically insane, twisted, depraved, or truly felt like he needed to punish the women who didn’t love him back, people with all kinds of headspaces and personalities will always exist. When people with those headspaces experience violent thoughts and ideas, and they have easy access to semi-automatic weapons and ammunition, what is stopping them from opening fire in the streets?
This week, film maker and activist Michael Moore was asked for his opinion on the latest shootings. He was one of the first people to crusade the anti-gun movement after the Columbine High School shootings 15 years ago, with his film Bowling for Columbine. His response devastated me
“I no longer have anything to say about what is now a part of normal American life. Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that? Even when 90% of the American public calls for stronger gun laws, Congress refuses and then we the people refuse to remove them from office. So the onus is on us, all of us. We won’t pass the necessary laws, but more importantly we won’t consider why this happens here all the time. When the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people people kill people,” they’ve got it half-right. Except I would amend it to this: “Guns don’t kill people Americans kill people.” Enjoy the rest of your day, and rest assured this will all happen again very soon.”
Something else disturbs me about this latest shooting. Rodger actually stabbed some of his victims to death. Guns will always be the quickest and easiest way to kill someone, but when a nation is so accustomed to mass killings, these people will keep looking for more shocking ways to cause death. If you take the guns away you can change that culture.
If you’re holding any guilt over this, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Sadly there have been many people unfairly implicated because of this crime. The young woman who Rodger claimed triggered his hatred for women now faces the judgement and speculation of the entire world. Even Hollywood funny guys Judd Apatow and Seth Rogan have been blamed for making movies that outcast people, and therefore apparently led Rodger to kill six people.
Whether it was bullying, rejection, modern culture, mental illness or the fact that he was a psychopath, when Rodger turned the gun on himself he still had 400 rounds of unspent ammunition. Just imagine.
You’re running out of time, Mr Obama Get. It. Done.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOiOhxujsE – The Daily Show: John Oliver Investigates Gun Control In Australia