What is the answer to gun violence in America? I think it is white feathers! I have watched with sadness and horror the reports of massacres and the murder of black teenagers by white police. Today’s reports of 12 cops shot in Dallas was sadly inevitable.
Supposing I lived in the USA. What could I do about this? Here in Britain we have an unarmed police force and strict gun control. Gun crime is vanishingly rare. Changes in America’s gun laws will eventually come whatever the National Rifle Association do. But in the meantime people are being killed and maimed.
Watching from across the Atlantic I think the problem goes much deeper than lax gun laws. I grew up watching TV in the 50s and 60s. Westerns were very popular then. In every episode the hero resolved the problem by arriving with a gun and shooting the bad guys. The Wild west was never like this. There are no contemporary pictures of cowboys carrying guns. They didn’t even wear Stetsons! The bowler (or Derby as the yanks call it) was the usual headgear.
The violence continued when the popularity of Westerns faded. Apart from Columbo how many police shows ended without a shoot out? And that is the real problem. Americans think the only way to solve a problem is to shoot at it. I have even heard of one case where a lost dog was reported to the local police and they returned it to the owner with 14 bullet holes in it!
So how to change attitudes? That’s where the white feathers come in. They need a campaign to convince citizens, particularly men, that reaching for a gun is not the manly way deal with a difficult situation.
Britain fought the first world war with a volunteer army until 1917. One of the reasons for this was that young girls gave a white feather to any man not in uniform. The white feather signified cowardice and shamed men into joining up.
I suggest American women should give a white feather to anyone carrying a gun and say “real men don’t need guns”. Including Police Officers? Yes. They don’t need to carry guns. The gun should be their last option not the first.
There would be massive objections to this, particularly by the Police. But the fact is that armed police do not make you safe. My daughter went to Paris last summer. She said the airport was full of police armed with machine guns. Every cop in Paris carries a gun. Yet when the Jihadists attacked they had 300 casualties. The same is true of Orlando. Every police officer in Orlando is armed yet it didn’t stop the massacre.
There are incidents that will need an armed response from the Police. In Britain we have armed officers to deal with these. The guns are kept in a locked safe in the car. A senior officer has to authorise the despatch of armed police to an incident. America needs to move towards this approach.
I could talk at length about the pros and cons of gun control and the 2nd amendment. But that is only part of the solution. The point I will make is that America is a democracy and there are elections this year. If every Mother, Grandmother and Auntie decided they want their kids to be safe and tells their Senator, Congressman etc, “I will not vote for you unless you support gun control”, the politicians would fall over themselves to support it. This will happen one day when the massacres are frequent enough .
Until then people will continue to die. The immediate solution is to tell America to”man up”. Real men can walk the streets and face the world without “packing a piece”. Give the ones who can’t a white feather and save a life. It might be yours!
I hope our “cousins” will not consider me impertinent. But sometimes you can see the trees better from outside of the forest. Hearing that young woman watch her man being shot and killed yesterday means I can no longer remain silent.