A core of lead protected by a jacket of steel alloys. A cone-shaped cap nested at its tip, and a tube brimming with powder hugging its body. The entire metal contraption is slim enough to slip into a pocket, small enough to pass off as a pen. Yet this medley of metals is rarely seen in everyday life. It rests inside a chamber, among many others of its kind, ready to be ejected in a fraction of a second.
Bullets are not inherently evil. Neither are guns. But their unchecked freedom in our country has transformed them into the cause of death and injury for countless people, whether they be school children, concert attendees or church goers.
And as a nation, what do we do to help these victims of gun violence?
We send them our thoughts and prayers. We argue over whether to ban weapons completely or keep them exactly as they are. We point fingers and protest against groups, from gun activist organizations to religious centers, which we determine are at fault. We cite the Second Amendment and say guns aren’t the problem because we have the right to bear arms. And at the end of the day, we get nothing done.
On March 15, New Zealand faced a tragedy that further exemplifies our society’s constant misuse of guns — a shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The typically peaceful environment of the mosques was abruptly shattered by the sounds of gunshots that eventually led to the deaths of 51 people. The prime suspect of the crime is a 28-year-old white man who allegedly used a semi-automatic rifle for the shooting. This tragedy holds an unequivocal resemblance to the many that took place in our country last year, and has sparked debate about gun policies in not just New Zealand, but also the rest of the world as they watch this unfold.
The current consensus regarding guns in New Zealand is in slight contrast to that of the U.S. There, it is not a right to own a gun, but rather a privilege, which comes with heavy responsibility. In light of this shooting, New Zealand is now prompted with a heightened sense of urgency about their gun legislation and the amends that need to be made.
But beyond the sheer horror of another mass shooting, the New Zealand tragedy brings another issue into the picture. There have been alarming rates of gun violence in the U.S., ranging from shootings at schools to nightclubs to religious centers. The key difference between these two nations are the responses to these shootings.