by AVI VINCE
I was watching Batman at roughly the same time as those in Colorado were. Except in my cinema, everyone got out safe. So it was pretty shocking to hear the shooting on the news. But what was more shocking was the after effects. No I am not talking about the strange behaviour of the shooter. But that gun sales in Colorado rose by 41%.
And now, another seven are dead after a shooting at another mass shooting in the United States – at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s been too soon to tell whether gun sales are affected by this shooting, but if Colorado is anything to go by, then we’re going to be seeing a huge increase in gun ownership across states in America.
It is a perfectly reasonable debate. If someone had a gun and you did, you would feel safer. If someone had a gun and you didn’t, you would feel less safe. Right? Only in theory.
I grew up in South Africa. While it might not be at war, it isn’t the safest place in the world. Every newspaper is packed with stories on crimes – the ones that happened within the last 24 hours. One in every three woman is raped. Even baby girls. So it was only logical to own a gun for protection. Everyone did.
I remember exactly where our family gun was. In my parents’ bedroom, at the bottom right hand corner of my dad’s wardrobe, next to his shoes in a large safe. My siblings and I were to never go near that space in the wardrobe. If the safe was locked and you needed it in a hurry, it may take too long to open. So I don’t think it was always locked, regardless of what my parents said.
Besides the gun, we had grill bars on all the windows. We had an alarm that was set every night and every time we left the house. And there were panic buttons to press when needed. At night, there was a door and a grill gate that would be locked to separate the bedroom section of the house to the living area.
We had two dogs. But they weren’t chosen for their pink bellies or cute smiles. They were chosen because for their bark, their bite, and their protective instincts. The roamed the property as our body guards. And then we had huge walls, sometimes bigger than the trees on the other side, surrounding our home. We only had little spikes on our wall tops while others had barbwire or electric fencing, or both.
I never felt less safe than when I lived there. Every tree branch cracking and every dog bark sent shivers down my spine. I remember at about 9 years old talking to my friend about her plan in case they were broken into. She said that she would lie up against the brick wall that on one side bordered her single bed and her huge human size bear would sleep in the middle of the bed. That way the armed robbers would mistake the bear for her. I immediately got my mum to buy me a human size teddy.