By Jasmine Lowen
Social media handle: @jazmyninreallife
Sub-edited by: Jasmine Wing | Jasmine W (@JasmineW_BN)
Mass shootings have always dominated the conversation on gun control, but it has been reported that two thirds of gun-related deaths are suicides. But to truly understand the debate, let’s look back for a moment or two.
Sandy Hook Elementary School on a mid-December day in 2012 – everybody knows the chilling tale. Adam Lanza, 20, took the lives of twenty-six people, some as young as 6 years old. He then shot himself in the head to evade capture, leaving behind a ruin without comparison as the deadliest school shooting in history. Schools, until now considered a generally safe place, are now feared. This tragic incident prompted a long-standing debate on gun control in America.
Soon after that fateful day, a report was issued by the Connecticut State Attorney’s office, declaring that Lanza had acted alone and his actions were planned, but with no clear motivation for targeting the school.
A second report, this one by the Office of the Child Advocate, detailed that he had had Asperger’s syndrome and as a teenager suffered from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder – however it was emphasized that these conditions had not led to his murderous acts. Instead, the report concluded, “his severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems … combined with an atypical preoccupation with violence … and access to deadly weapons … proved a recipe for mass murder”.
Here a debate began, one that continues to this day, on whether firearms should be legal at all. In some places, like Great Britain or Australia, guns had already been illegalised or extremely restricted, and shootings had gone down accordingly.
However, the argument offered most often is, “But if we get rid of all the guns, only the bad people would have guns.” They proudly, patriotically, declare that they, the average citizen, require firearms for self-defense.
Well, let us examine this for a moment. The majority of the red-blooded Americans citing this do not attend self-defense classes or become black belts in karate. They don’t spend a fortune on home security systems, or carry pepper spray, or have the police on speed-dial when they walk home each night. Quite simply, they do not fear. And while their mace sits dusty at home, you can be sure that their gun is polished, holstered, ready to go. Or locked in a safe, where it couldn’t be reached in time in the event of a burglary anyway – it is there not to protect but as a trophy instead.
So why? Why does the laid-back citizen fight so strongly for the right to his pistol, why will he purchase ammo over body cameras?
Because they believe that guns are fashionable – this is their reason and that is absolutely okay. Well…except for the fact that two thirds of gun deaths are suicides.
Perhaps, inspired by rebellious characters from Red Dead Redemption, dressed in leather with impeccable aim and the ability to get away with anything, you purchase a gun. You feel voguish, powerful.
But from time to time, we all get sad. The number of people saved by anti-gun laws in the lucky parts of the world where firearms are simply something we are not exposed to cannot be quantified. So many people have felt an agony or a passionate hatred for their own life so potent that if we had a gun in our safe, we would unlock it. Take it out, turn the polished metal over in our hands, gingerly touch the chamber, feel its weight. And then not just the weight of the weapon but of everything would crush us as our mind began to quicken. It would be painless, we would tell ourselves, and like that we would not be here today.
Perhaps, though, things could be different. Without the firearm, we would have looked around, sighed, and resigned ourselves to the fact that we simply have to keep going. We would walk into therapy, or vent to a kindly bartender over our woes, and slowly pick ourselves back up. Many of us have done this already. But ask yourself if you would trust yourself with a firearm if you were at your worst. During your biggest meltdown, your purest anger – would you trust yourself even as you hyperventilated and wept to possess this weapon? And even if you can trust yourself – can you trust everybody else to hold the same restraint?
Well, no. You can’t. On average in America, 22,926 commit suicide with a gun each year. Additionally, there has been a 33% increase in people taking their own lives in America since 1999 – meaning that the problem may be worsening still. Perhaps you believe yourself to be of sound mind, and fancy yourself a responsible gun-owner. However, you cannot predict your own mindset if things come crashing down around you. Whatever your circumstance, most likely it’s best to leave the weapon in the store and spend the money on self-defense classes instead.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, please make use of the helplines below. You are not alone.
United Kingdom – 116 123
United States of America – 1-800-273-8255
Algeria – 0021 3983 2000 58
Australia – 13 11 14
The Bahamas – 322-2763
Bosnia and Herzegovnia – 0800-300303
Brunei – 145
China – 020-81899120
Croatia – 48 33 888
Kosovo – 080012345
Denmark – 70 201 201
Estonia – 655 8088
Fiji – 132454
France – 01 45 39 40 00
Greenland – 134
Guyana – 223-0001
Hungary – 116-123
India – +91 8422984528
Iran – 1480
Israel – 1201
Lebanon – 1564
Liberia – 6534308
Lithuania – 116 123
Netherlands – 0900 0113
New Zealand – 1737
Norway – 116 123
The Philippines – (02) 989-8727