Today I wanted to watch a video on You Tube from someone I follow. Normally he talks about his tools and projects but this time he wanted to rant about gun rights, he is off course an American. For me it’s almost unbelievable that two so similar cultures can be so far apart on this issue. I don’t want to go too much into details but if there were hardly any gun related homicide in America we wouldn’t have this discussion.
I am from the Netherlands and having a gun in your house to protect yourself was unheard of. You can join a club and get a license but that was for the sport. I can’t remember it ever being something we talked about, even in politics there was, to my best recollection, never a discussion over gun control. There are around 170 murders in the Nederland’s each year and in 40% of the cases there was a firearm used. That’s around 70 or less than 0.5 per 100.000. In American this number is around 3.5 per 100.000 See here for an overview. If you look at this list then there are countries like France, Sweden and Norway where almost 30% of the people have guns in the house but with similar homicide numbers as in the Netherlands. Having guns is not the biggest issue, I live now in Norway and in the beginning, I found it strange that you could buy hunting rifles in the local outdoor store but it’s a big thing here and where I live there are in general almost no crimes and murders are rare to, despite the many hunting rifles that are circulating here.
There is no discussion that there are more guns and murders in America than in Europe, that’s just counting and numbers. There is a lot discussion going on about the reason, and what to do about it.
I know that there are a lot of Americans that want gun laws just as they are in Europe. If I may generalize I will say that these people are also more tolerant to minorities, less religious and more left leaning. Among a larger group there is a strong animosity towards big government, health care, identity cards or socialism.
Americans talk a lot about their freedom and opportunities, but again, the numbers don’t lie. In most countries in Europe you have a better chance to climb the social ladder than in America. Freedom in America has more meaning if you have money, in Europe your own qualities have more to say in your success. If you are poor, have the wrong color and been born in the wrong neighborhood you can be proud if you climb out of it in America, but how many talented boys and girls that started way behind the rest haven’t made it, and how many mediocre boys and girls took their place. In America there is still more of a class system like it was in England or India where class and blood divides you in have and have-nots. Where and how you are born play a big part in your life, a lot of your freedom is immediately curtailed or multiplied at your birth. America is the land of the privileged.
Maybe this lack of talented and educated people play part in what is happening in America. I pointed out the love for more guns, so you can protect yourself against all those other guns, the denial of climate change, there addiction to gas guzzling v8s, their ridiculous religions, war on drugs, addiction to prescription pills and finally their latest choice for leader, and I had so much hope after the last one. If I take the Netherlands as an example than you can say that our rightwing is more like leftwing in America if it’s about freedom, abortion, drugs, healthcare, unemployment. And the large rightwing/republican group with their anti-abortion, anti-science and religious fervor are represented in the Netherlands but it’s a tiny minority. There are large groups in America that live in a mono culture where everything fits their beliefs. This kind of brainwashing is harder to do in a more tolerant and open society with more equality. Better, more diverse end accessible education is probably the solution but it is engrained in the American soul, so it might take a while.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Martin Luther King, Jr.