America Burning – II

Why do so many young black males die at the hands of American police officers? Is it just racism? Or are there other reasons?

America has a long history of racism – but slavery ended in 1865, more than 150 years ago. The country should not still be fighting the Civil War. Yet all too often it seems it is.

Certainly, there is nowhere near racial equality in terms of opportunity. White people frequently don’t see that. When you are privileged by the system, it is tough to see that not everyone has the same advantages. (And yes, I know there is a chicken and egg problem sometimes – not every bad thing is due to racial inequality.)

From a Canadian perspective it does seem American police are trigger happy. Perhaps that is understandable. They live in a country where everyone has a gun and is willing to use it.

Policing is a tough job. People are grumpy, for many different reasons. Knowing that anyone you stop for jaywalking or a traffic infraction is probably armed and could snap makes it that much tougher. There are more guns than people in the USA. Is that necessary?

Supposedly, Americans need guns to protect themselves. From each other I presume. Maybe if they didn’t all have guns, that wouldn’t be necessary.

Police in the UK are, for the most part, armed with nothing more than a truncheon. Canadian police officers carry guns – but most will go through their career without drawing a pistol.

Even doing that requires a lot of paperwork after the fact to justify the decision. Firing the weapon is even more paperwork. Nobody likes paperwork.

While media images may be misleading, guns do seem to play a large role in American policing as they do in American society. Guns are a powerful symbol. Those who have them and use them have the illusion of being in control. Perhaps if fewer Americans had firearms then police would be using their weapons less.

When you suggest gun control, many Americans squeal about their constitutional rights, especially the sacred “right to bear arms.” They don’t want to admit that clause was to ensure an armed citizenry in the event of a British invasion.

It has been more than 200 years since the last time British troops fought on American soil. I think it is fair to let modern Paul Reveres know that “the British aren’t coming.”

Those who think the government wants them to give up their guns as part of a conspiracy to gain control need to understand this: the government already has control. Big government isn’t out to get you. And if it were your guns would only delay the inevitable

If you think you need firearms to defend yourself in the event of a home invasion, consider this: Anyone breaking into your house is also armed (probably with a gun stolen from your neighbor) and is most likely far readier to use it at 3 a.m. than you are.

If Americans bring in some serious gun control, the crime rate might drop. Guns give a false sense of courage and invulnerability to the criminal.

There is no justification for what happened to George Floyd last week. The accused are now before the legal system, and there is hope justice will be done. Floyd was not shot by police – but I would bet they were thinking of guns; it is always on their minds.

The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots have turned the spotlight on racial inequality in America. There is a lot of healing necessary before the USA can move forward. If there are fewer guns floating around, that might make the process a little easier.

Too bad no-one is seriously willing to consider it.


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