Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2014 Contents A34
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 2, 2014
Boooom. Goes the noise in the
distance. My Guadeloupian
housemate runs into the kitchen.
"Wat is zis noize?" he enquires
"Could be a car backfiring," I
"No! Zis must be gunz! I asked
ze people at work and they say it
I surmise the noises, which hap-
pen about once a fortnight, come
from the hills of St Ann s.
"Nobody is getting shot in St
Ann s..." I try to convince him.
He goes back to playing
PlayStation. Grand Theft Auto and
Call of Duty. Maybe he just has
guns on the brain.
Trinidad has guns on the brain.
There s lots of them and they end
many lives. At year end the homi-
cide count passed 400 after the
Boxing Day shootings.
In the UK in 2012 there were
553 murders. Just 39 were caused
Nobody likes guns in Britain.
Nobody wants them, not even
police. I remember the first time
I saw a police officer with a gun.
It was in Paris, when I was a kid.
I stared at the two gendarmes
lounging outside a train station,
black revolvers tucked neatly into
holsters at their waists. They must
have felt tough, invincible. The
same mindset as any gun owner.
For most the psychology of
firearms is straightforward: guns
kill. For others, including the US
president, it s more confusing---
like he can t figure out if guns are
bad or good. Guns that killed 20
primary schoolchildren in Con-
necticut in December 2012 and
120 more children since that mas-
Governments should take action
on guns in countries where the
mentality leans towards a desire
for personal firearms. But how does
that mentality originate or develop
in the ordinary individual?
I would argue you are not ordi-
nary if you own a gun, but in fact
have psychopathic tendencies,
paranoia and a desire, like the
French gendarmes or east Port-
of-Spain gangsters, to be able to
defend yourself or carry out ran-
dom acts of violence.
Our relationships with guns start
when we are young. We watch the
A-Team or James Bond and think,
"That s exciting." We mime shoot-
ing guns, theatrically "killing" our
siblings, who fall down "dead." The
New York Times found that in the
eight US states where records were
provided, 249 children died by
accidental shootings involving real
guns between 1999 and 2007. The
paper reported that these official
figures are a gross undercount.
As children me and my siblings
weren t allowed toy guns. Some
of my friends parents did not allow
them to even watch the A-Team
for fear of exposing them to vio-
lence. Extreme, yes, but these films
and TV shows, where we first
glimpse guns, normalise and glam-
orise gun violence. They desensi-
tise us to it and make it seem non-
violent or even seductive.
Hollywood representations of
shootings (one bullet to the chest
and the victim falls down dead in
minimal pain) is different from the
reality. Ask any coroner or forensics
Violent computer games turn
guns into entertainment. My
cousin was discovered playing GTA
Vice City aged 13, killing prostitutes
and old grannies for fun. My aunt
took the game away---she had
bought it for him by mistake!
At the other end of the spec-
trum, I was maccoing random pro-
files on Facebook recently and saw
a picture from Colorado. Two dead
stags, recently shot, were displayed
on a cover photo with a boy
crouching down holding their
antlers, smiling. The caption, writ-
ten by his parents, declared,
"Jacob s first kill." Smiley face.
When one reaches adulthood
it s terrible to me that a fascination
with guns would persist. The nat-
ural reaction should be abhorrence,
revulsion and rejection. Normal
human beings have an instinct not
to kill. Supporters of firearms say
guns "defend" not "kill." So...did
the chicken come before the egg
Why is Britain so repulsed by
guns? The answer is simple: mass
shootings. In Hungerford in 1987
Michael Ryan killed 16 people. In
Dunblane in 1996 Thomas Hamil-
ton killed 16 children. The latter
had a lasting impact on the nation-
al psyche and caused the govern-
ment to tighten gun laws. An out-
right ban was considered.
In America mass shootings hap-
pen all the time and nothing
T&T has not seen mass shoot-
ings but the cumulative effect of
murders has a big impact. Guns
are largely smuggled in and sold
on the black market. It s not liberal
gun laws that are the problem, like
in the US; it s a lack of vigilance,
or worse, complicity in allowing
guns to enter the country illegal-
ly.Before I moved to Trinidad I
knew about the gun situation. I
have never felt afraid here. I don t
need a gun to feel unafraid but if
there were fewer guns the people
would feel less afraid. New year s
resolutions can be life-changing.
Ridding Trinidad of guns would
A friend said the noises in St
Ann s are locals splitting bamboo.
I told my housemate. He breathed
a sigh of relief, then shot dead a
pedestrian on PlayStation.
Bring in the new year
without a bang
A screenshot of Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Vice City video game.
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