America has this phenomenal reputation for getting stuff done fast. Flamboyant Libyan dictator needs putting in his place? Let’s cut the crap and drop the payload. Giant brick wall needs building? Let’s bypass democracy and declare a national emergency. Too many migrants crossing the border? Hell, let’s just lock their kids in cages and see what happens.
You get the idea. We’re a nation of hot-blooded reactionaries – we’re hard-coded to do everything we can to protect the motherland. Time and time again, we’ve compromised our morals in order to deliver a decisive end to anything and everything that threatens the herd. When something goes tits up, Americans find a quick solution and make it happen.
Unless we’re talking about guns, that is. When it comes to all things murder-inducing, a whole lot of Americans would rather shove their fingers deep into their ear canals, slam their eyes shut and belt out "The Star Spangled Banner" at the top of their lungs until somebody changes the subject.
Whenever an innocent child gets shot and killed at church by some lunatic with an assault rifle, millions of lethargic, freedom-toting white folks simply shrug, tweet something ambiguous about "thoughts and prayers" and move on with their lives. We all grumble something needs to be done about mass shootings, but apparently neither voters nor lawmakers are able to think of any single, logical solution we as a nation could actively pursue in order to prevent gun crime.
Well, hold your horses everybody, because New Zealanders have finally come up with a practical solution to a problem America has been grappling with for generations – and you know how long it took them? Six days.
That’s right. Less than a week after New Zealand’s first-ever mass shooting – less than a week after some far-right extremist with a heart full of hate mercilessly cut short the lives of 50 innocent worshippers – and prime minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the country is taking real action to ensure this can never happen again.
How, you ask? Gun control. Within a few days of the country’s worst-ever tragedy, Ardern was able to reach across the aisle, win cross-party support from right-wing opponents and agree on plans to implement a blanket ban on all semi-automatic weapons. High-capacity magazines? They’re banned, too. Bump stocks and other dangerous mods? Banned.
This solution won’t be easy, and it’ll cost the government money. The introduction of a fair buyback scheme to collect and safely dispose of all these guns could cost New Zealand up to $200m. But politicians on all sides of the spectrum have swallowed their pride, agreed this is in the national interest and are making it happen.
Six days it took them. Six. Seis. Sechs. Sei.
New Zealand has done in less than a week what Americans haven’t managed to figure out in 250 years. Just out of curiosity, do you want to know how many Americans have been shot in the last six days? 413. In the last 72 hours alone, 76 Americans have been killed by a gun. Six of the dead were children – and if you fancy zooming out for even more context, almost 3,000 Americans have been murdered by guns so far in 2019. We’re not even done with March, and 3,000 people are dead.
How long are we going to sit here and make believe there’s no way to prevent these deaths? How long are we going to do nothing and simply hope our kids aren’t the next to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? How much longer can we perpetuate the weekly mass murder of our friends, family and relatives through pigheaded inaction?
Thank god New Zealanders have a sliver of common sense. Thank god they care about each other enough to protect one another – because unless Americans stop lying to themselves and stop pretending this is a problem that can't be tackled, this is going to keep on happening again, and again and again. It's only going to get worse.