At a school in the U.S., a man has shot 17 people dead. Again. If you write these events off as part of the culture of the country, you are complicit in this tragedy.
On every door of every fast-food restaurant in the U.S., on every entrance to a Starbucks, even in civic centers where children learn to play basketball on Saturday mornings, you will find two signs: "Free Wi-Fi available" and "No weapons." The first sign is as obvious as the other absurd — or at least it should be. Why should parents take weapons with them to watch their child at training practice? Why should a visit to a café generate so much fear that you cannot survive it unarmed?
But it isn't absurd that there are signs prohibiting weapons everywhere in the country. It's absurd that weapons are as run-of-the-mill as freely available internet. And no crime will change this. Not even the attack on a school in Florida by a 19-year-old man, killing 17 people with a semi-automatic rifle – the majority of whom were children.
A dreadful routine follows these events, the same routine which is sure to follow the next attack, the next shooting spree: the grief, the dismay, the sympathy for the victims, the demands from the Democrats and left-wing Americans for stricter weapon laws to finally be adopted. And then it is always the same reply which follows from the Republicans and weapon advocates, that no law could have prevented these events, and that in the U.S. Constitution, every citizen is guaranteed the right to bear arms. All of this is routinely reported by the media — we will once again read of the "American nightmare" — until Donald Trump tweets something else and the event passes into oblivion.
The American reality is a self-made nightmare. It is the nightmare of a country which is killing its children and whoever attempts to account for these events by citing the identity and culture of the country is himself complicit in these crimes. Yes, it is true that the right of citizens to bear arms is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. However, when the Constitution was written and adopted in 1787, it was a different America. The idea behind the Second Amendment wasn't to install metal detectors in schools in order to check pupils' bags for weapons. It was an America which had just emerged from a war in which it had emancipated itself from the colonial power of Great Britain. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," reads the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution Is No Excuse for Stricter Gun Laws
The fact that 200 years later the country is now brimming with weapons and that no one is afraid to use them no longer guarantees the security of the state. The West Coast is no longer the last frontier, a hard-won possession which must be defended. Nevertheless, a homeowner is entitled to shoot from his double garage if he sees his SUV is under threat.
It is true that more stringent weapon laws cannot prevent events such as those in Florida. They can, however, help curtail the limitless availability of weapons, to hamper access to them and above all, make very clear that, unlike drive-thru cash machines, weapons are not a matter of the everyday.
The United States will not lose its identity when it finally recognizes that everyone having weapons is not a cultural artifact which must be preserved at all costs. The country, its history and national identity are based on more than an amendment to the Constitution. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is still a central component of the United States’ DNA. Pursuing happiness — no one ever succeeded in doing that with a weapon in his hand. The U.S. needs to finally grasp this; otherwise, it will never wake up from this nightmare.