Recently the world was shocked by yet another school gun attack in the USA. On the afternoon of February 14th, 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and fourteen more were injured, making it one of the world’s deadliest school massacres. The suspected perpetrator, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was identified by witnesses and arrested shortly afterwards.
Since then a huge debate has grabbed the American nation on the need to reform the laws that secure the right to bear arms in their country. One of the proponents for the right to bear arms is the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its political wing, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. The NRA has been described as one of the largest and most powerful political lobby groups in the United States. In America, it is easier to buy a gun than certain kinds of medication, which in Europe and the rest of the world can be sold in any pharmacy.
The power behind the lobby
The lobbies that support the right to bear arms are of course trying to protect the interests of a thriving industry. America is investing heavily in arms manufacturing and its substantial military budget. If you invest so much in an industry, your economy depends on it, thus making harder to proceed with any necessary changes, when incidents such as these occur.
Consequently, reforms are very hard to achieve without huge sacrifices – jobs cuts, protests from the newly unemployed and most importantly the “grilling” from the industry elites who will have their income reduced and their lifelong investment lose value.
But why should we in Europe and the rest of the world be bothered about a seemingly internal, political, economic, cultural or social issue of another country?
Because America’s addiction to weapons is contagious. By establishing a very profitable industry and cementing its importance as one of the pillars of US industry, we now seem to understand why America is always in a state of war; either with external threats or with internal attack incidents, such as these.
In addition, in order to increase the profits, this industry is always seeking for new customers and markets, both in the US and abroad. So there is absolutely no way that their lobby will accept a change in US policy on the right to bear arms. It will take a very strong-willed President to clash with this group and do the right thing. And so far, no American leader ever dared to do so. Sadly, the need to sell arms is not just limited to the US internal market.
It’s just business?
America is one of the major exporters of weapons to other countries so war and any hot conflict is good business. And that is why the rest of the world should be concerned about America’s addiction to weapons.
In Greece we have to spend a large proportion of our GDP on importing arms from countries such as the USA in order to protect ourselves from Turkey, a NATO ally of ours. Arms industry companies, corrupt Greek and other nations’ politicians, proceed with sales of weapons that often are not needed. Plus, is it any wonder that America is constantly in a state of war with other regions? If you produce so many weapons and guns and your internal market is not able to absorb all of them, you need to export your “product.” Thus having some regions in a constant state of conflict is crucial, to make sure they are dependent on your exports.
Invading other countries and maintaining a war there is also crucial in order for one of your biggest industries to make more profits and thus helping your economy to grow. War is a profitable business for such economic models. It is poisoning generation after generation on the necessity of war and weaponry. To achieve this, industries such as movies, gaming and other entertainment platforms are used to accustom people to violence.
Just watch any of the Hollywood action films and you will see how many models of guns and other weaponry are being “advertised” subconsciously to the audience. Carrying a gun, is considered so natural in some communities in the United States that as a solution to the increasing number of innocent victims shot at schools, is seen to arm the teachers. If such move is approved, we will have trigger-happy ex-military personnel educating the next generation of America’s youths! The circle of war and violence will never end. Of course, they could be doing the obvious and ban, or at least limit the number of weapons that are allowed to circulate in the American society. But they just don’t want to accept it. As result, these tragic incidents will continue to happen throughout the US.
Sadly, it is not only the American people that will suffer or be affected, but the rest of us too. Regions such as the Middle East will never see peace and prosperity. Greece will continue to spend millions on weaponry, even if it doesn’t need it. Europe will continue to be at loggerheads with its neighbour Russia, over the establishment of missiles pointing at them. America, of course, is not the only country to be blamed. Its European counterparts and NATO allies, have also a fair share of the blame. Countries such as France and the United Kingdom are making profits from arms sales in countries that suffer from on-going conflicts. It is a sad realisation, that our civilisation accepts the capitalisation on human suffering, all in order to maintain “economic growth.” Europe needs to step up and change this situation. Firstly it needs to lead by example, then lobby other countries and the economic blocks of this world and to limit the production and trade of weapons, even from America.
Our world does not need more weapons, it needs people with a vision and the ability to debate and come up with solutions to humanity’s problems. And since most of them derive from violence, injustice, crime and conflict, using weapons to solve them is as absurd as employing a thief to protect your money.