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Guns or people?

Last Friday morning the world awoke to the news that a lone gunman in Aurora, Colorado in the United States had massacred a dozen innocent people attending the opening of the latest Batman movie.

We in Barbados, no doubt, like others the world over, knew personally none of those had been killed or injured, but the sense of outrage, we are certain, would have been no less. There can be no reasonable excuse for the killing of 12 persons and the injuring of nearly 60 others.

But the senseless taking of life seems to be a growing trend in our modern world, and while some may see the root cause as the easy availability of weapons we ought perhaps to give greater though to what appears to be the fact that we are producing populations of people who seem to have little regard for anything else with life.

Here in Barbados we had the senseless killing of a Christ Church man at the start of the weekend in what authorities believe was a home invasion and armed robbery.

In Trinidad, in a weekend characterised by four murder, we also had the case of a 14 year-old boy being shot dead by a gunman to whom he apparently ran for assistance after watching his uncle being shot three times by another gunman — apparently not knowing that the one to whom he ran was an accomplice.

All across our neck of the woods, particularly Jamaica and Bahamas, life continued as usual — or should that be death continued as usual.

While some will argue that these killings have now become the norm in our modern world, few will seek to convince is that they are acceptable. Certainly our world will not easily accept the events on Aurora as par for the course — a natural by-product of our modern society. We are also certain that as the initial shock wears off and the search for answers begins in earnest that the usual pro-gun control and anti-gun control lobbies in the US will settle in behind their sandbags for another noisy battle.

And when we really examine it, it is really no different from what occurs in any of our Caribbean islands when the routine killings spike — we point to the ready availability of illegal guns, spurred by the drugs trade.

Yes, we agree, fewer guns mean fewer tools in the hands of would-be killers, but there is also much logic in the argument that weapons don’t kill, people do and therefore our societies need to do a lot more to produce citizens who understand and appreciate their duty to other humans.

Every citizens ought to recognise that while killing might be the ultimate manifestation of man’s inhumanity to man, there are so many other facets of our daily interaction where it is just as clear.

The peddling of illegal drugs; the ease with which we will take what is not ours and seek to justify it; our destruction or defacing of public property without a thought to those who will suffer as a result; the apparent pleasure we get from spreading rumours when we have no proof of what we say, but are in no doubt about the pain saying it will cause; and the hurtful and insulting ways we speak to each other when there is absolutely no justification or genuine gain from such a course of action, are just a sample of how inhuman we can be.

Now add to that the way we treat animals and ask yourself if the problem is the availability of guns — or any other weapon.

Until we start to see the people around us as brothers and sisters and understand there is tremendous merit in following the Biblical injunction to be our brother’s keeper, we will continue to suffer these acts of senseless carnage, whether they be in Colorado, Christ Church, or Caroni.

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