Opinion / Featured Contributors

Life in China safer than gun-crazed US

By Harvey Dzodin (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-14 15:59

Life in China safer than gun-crazed US

Two people embrace outside a Northern Arizona University student dormitory in Flagstaff, Ariz., after an early morning confrontation between two groups of students escalated into gunfire, Oct. 9, 2015. [Photo/IC]

Despite the pollution and terrible traffic congestion caused by aggressive, selfish, uncaring drivers, I am much happier living in China than the US. I feel safe here, where the riskiest behavior is crossing the street.

I think of this every time there is a mass shooting; and that is all too frequently. The nine innocent people killed in Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Oregon matches the nine black worshippers gunned down at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June.

Then there was the cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado where 12 were killed in July 2012 and the Newton, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School killings of 20 first graders and six adults that December.

These are only the bloody tip of the iceberg. According to the website Mass Shooting Tracker there are incidents in which four or more people are shot almost every day. There were 994 in the period from January 1, 2013 through October 1 this year.

As President Obama said after the latest tragedy, these ghastly incidents have become routine. Sadly, we have become numbed by the carnage because of unceasing American gun violence and the government’s pathetic inability to stop it.

There are more guns in America than people. National, state and local gun laws are so lax you can drive a tank through the loopholes. Most elected representatives are so frightened of the National Rifle Association that they try to hide after each incident. Or like Jeb Bush, they ignore the carnage by saying that “stuff happens” or Donald Trump saying “that’s the way the world goes”. But, no Mr Trump, buffoon in a bouffant that you are, that’s not how it goes. You’ve been to China and claim to have made loads of money here so you should know better than that!

The parents of shooter Christopher Harper-Mercer encapsulate the dilemma. His father said the carnage would not have happened if his son had not been able to access a virtual weapon’s arsenal. His mother, who hasn’t commented on the tragedy, previously had written about the numerous weapons she kept in her home and that “no one will be ‘dropping’ by my house uninvited without acknowledgement.” Her position parallels the absurd position of the NRA that guns don’t kill people, people do, and that the answer is more guns, not less.

So what can we expect in the future? Blood and guts as usual. There will be little or no change in the carnage given the perfect firestorm of gridlock in Washington and the lethal political choke-hold of the NRA. No Republican candidate is likely to advocate change, and even Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden will plead ad nauseam for real gun control and the result will be depressingly familiar: zilch, nothing, nada.

Battles for gun laws have shifted to the states where both gun control advocates and the NRA are facing off against each other and legislators and governors are caught in the cross-fire. States have more limited powers than federal government. While it’s a positive sign that earlier this year Oregon passed a law requiring near-universal background checks, the sober reality is that the NRA is pouring more money into state level battles and it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.

It’s hard to be optimistic about legislative changes and even if successful, it’s hard to see the hundreds of millions of guns in private hands being surrendered without a fight. Unfortunately, the hackneyed expression “over my dead body” will be both literally and figuratively true.

In a supreme irony, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy spoke in Roseberg about the need for gun control in May 1968. The next month he would be dead, victim of another lone assassin’s bullet.

So, while the senseless killing continues at a steady pace in America with no sign of resolution, here in China this is one problem from which we thankfully don’t suffer.

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