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El Espectador, Colombia

Arms Again

By Roberto Esguerra Gutiérrez

Translated By Sara Hunter

13 January 2013

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken


Colombia - El Espectador - Original Article (Spanish)

Last year in Colombia, according to official statistics, 57 people were killed by stray bullets, making up a fraction of the almost 16,000 homicides that occurred. Innocent people, the majority of whom are children, have been victims of stray bullets, constituting another of the numerous problems produced by firearms in the hands of murderers: irresponsible people who act like animals for pleasure, or simply to boast, shooting without caring about the consequences. In the United States the phenomenon is different; the tragedies are usually caused by mental ill people shooting indiscriminately at innocent people and then almost always being killed by police.

Two of the most prestigious medical journals, The Annals of Internal Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine, in their first volumes of the year analyze the problem from several angles, emphasizing how it creates a problem for public health, since the number of child victims in the United States each year amounts to more than twice the number of children who die from cancer, five times the number who die from cardiac problems, and 15 times the number who die from infection. The journals invite a more decisive attitude in the medical community on measures aimed at preventing and controlling this phenomenon.

It is true that gun control is just one of these methods, something which would have unquestionable effectiveness. The finding shows that there is a sufficient argument for adopting such a measure in Bogota indefinitely and extending it to the rest of the country. Guns are not toys. Anyone who carries a gun is a potential assassin. Good people do not need guns, because for a good person, it goes against the essence of possibility to hurt or kill another human being.

Naturally, many other complementary actions are required. Some have argued that violent video games need to be controlled, that children and young people are habituated to the use of arms and have become vulnerable to obscuring the threshold between fiction and reality. Public health systems must play a major role in the detection of potentially dangerous mental illness, so that people can be treated and rehabilitated. Society in general must generate strong values of kindness, peace and tolerance. A society without guns can more easily be peaceful.



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