In one day, two acts of violence: but one ended very differently from the other. Just hours before the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, a stabbing spree took place at a primary school in Chengping, Henan, a small village in central China. The two towns are small enough that they were only catapulted to the world stage after these violent and senseless tragedies.
It is a chilling coincidence that young children were targeted in a place where they are supposed to be the safest, in two global incidents that happened within hours of each other. Two acts of violence that had similar settings had very different outcomes.
The shooting in Connecticut had an astounding death toll of 28, of whom 20 were small children. The stabbings in China saw 20 children injured, with 0 deaths. The majority of the students suffered only minor injuries. The stabber in China was subdued soon after the attack by the security guards who had been posted to schools around the country following a spike in the number of stabbing crimes. In Connecticut, it is believed that the shooter took his own life.
In the US, the subject of gun laws took centre stage soon after – in China, the discussion became focused on its mental health support system.
The discrepancies between the outcomes of these two incidents point to the fallacies of the mental health care system in both countries, but more so to a culture of violence and a lack of gun control in the US.
To outsiders, the obsession with guns in American culture is difficult to understand. Even amongst the more liberal, guns have held sacred status because of the constitution. To many, the removal of the right to own guns would be akin to revoking the freedom of expression or the right to vote. The ultimate dismissal in American politics is that something is “unconstitutional” – this should give an idea of how strongly Americans believe in their constitutional rights. With the Newtown shootings, however, the tide is shifting.
More and more Americans are demanding a serious dialogue on gun laws. After the Aurora cinema shootings on July 20 this year, six mass shootings have occurred, including the attack on a Sikh Temple that killed 7 people. The mantra of, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” is often repeated, to which I simply point again to the contrasting fatality count of the two tragedies. Although murder is an unavoidable and ugly face of humanity, the place of guns in American society makes it far too easy to accelerate the fatality rate during a violent rampage. Guns were designed solely to kill. To those arguing that outlawing semi-automatic guns would simply drive illegal gun sales, the majority of these massacres occurred when the shooters were able to obtain guns legally. In fact, the proliferation of guns means that these guns often make their way illegally across the borders to Canada and Mexico.
Why make it so easy to kill? Why must the burden of the freedom to own guns be placed on the lives of children?
Doubtless, the two men who committed the crimes were mentally ill. It would be incredibly difficult to pinpoint exactly what was the cause of their actions. In both countries, there should be a stronger support system for mental illness. The culture of violence must also be addressed; there needs to be better education at a younger age for conflict resolution. There is a need to teach our children that there are better and easier paths to take than violence. Children need to be taught about empathy, that other people matter just as much as they do.
There is more in common between the two countries than we think. We are all humans and are heartbroken in times like these. We need to come together instead of using this to turn against each other. We need to put in a serious and concerted effort to find a way to prevent tragedies such as these from happening again.Originally posted at: meanwhileinchinanews.com
- Let’s have a candid debate on gun violence (prhayz.com)
- UK & World News: Archbishop backs more gun controls (journallive.co.uk)
- China: Knifeman in Henan attacks primary school children (chinadailymail.com)
Categories: Human Rights & Social Issues