In the past few months, we have constantly heard of the deaths of many people at the hands of police in this country, which have immediately been paired with responses in the form of protests (or depending upon your news source, ‘riots’). However, there is one central point to all of these cases that should be discussed, since all of them center on it to some degree: firearms and general armament. Here in the United States, we have a tradition based upon the Second Amendment that allows our citizenry, as well as police, to carry guns about with very few restrictions. This gives a sense of unease. Knowing that anyone could be carrying a potentially lethal weapon is not a peaceful way of life. If one cannot trust the police who carry these weapons for our own protection, then how can we have meaningful order by their hands? When we have police officers hiding behind the shield of Internal Affairs and bureaucratic meandering, rather than having them judged fairly by a jury of their peers, our trust is shaken and shackled by the notion of killings without accountability.
In 1996, Australia was forever changed by the largest killing spree in the country’s history. The shootings in the town of Port Arthur, Tasmania saw such civil outcry after its handling that since then, due to many reforms towards gun ownership, gun-related homicides and suicides dropped by over fifty percent over a ten-year period. It’s always argued by American critics of such an approach, that Australia is too different in scale and politics for such a series of measures to work for the United States, which is definitely an acceptable point. However, when we look at the wider scope, Australia, just like the U.S., has been a frontier nation founded upon the ideal of rugged individualism. With that ideal ingrained in the psyche of those bearing arms, including civilians and police forces, it can be easily seen that a reformation of forces is not outside the realm of possibility as some suggest.
When it all comes down to brass tacks, we have to look at the U.S. Constitution and its age. We should be proud of our Constitution, since it is one of the oldest functioning forms of law on Earth. But with that age comes dysfunction. Just as we have been forced to amend our formerly racist and exclusionary amendments to make our nation more equal, we must also take the small hit to our pride to make it safer for those who live within U.S. borders. Some will say that by ‘taking our guns away’ that only criminals will have guns, and to some very small effect that is true; a black market for weaponry will always exist in some form. But by removing a source of guns, meaning both the citizenry as well as police forces will go unarmed, the mishandling and appropriation of these weapons can be controlled much more aptly. This will lead to fewer unnecessary deaths at the hands of both civilians and police alike.
The point this all is leading to is trust. If we cannot trust those who are meant to protect us, then we must take their arms. Otherwise, we will fear them, and fear leads to anger, and anger leads to protests (or the ‘dark side,’ depending on your views). Until there is change concerning our armament, it can be doubted that anything will really change nationwide.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of all Tangents USA writers.
Cover photo source: http://bit.ly/1Emf2k1.