Before moving to Africa, I researched which countries were the most dangerous. South Africa (SA) consistently topped the list. Violent crime is so pervasive that you can watch YouTube videos of robberies and carjackings.
(Robbery occurs at 2:51 in the video)
In Ghana I asked an upper-middle class, South African of Indian descent if SA was safe.
Friend: Yeah, it’s safe.
Me: Have you ever been robbed?
Friend: Yes, my dad and I were hijacked in our driveway.
Me: (Biting my tongue)
In other words, he and his dad were carjacked by gunpoint in their driveway. Despite living in a gated community and having high walls and electrified fences for his home, he was still robbed but also insisted that his country was safe. People can get used to anything. Thank goodness I don’t live in SA, I thought to myself.
Of course, I shouldn’t boast of my country’s safety.
The frequency of mass shootings has inured half the population into thinking “this is okay.” I know the reasons are manifold: terrorism (ISIS/Al Qaeda), terrorism (domestic), “lone wolf” disenfranchised male, teased at school, angry at your boss. Nonetheless, it’s not normal for a developed country to have so many random acts of violence.
While overall crime is down to levels not seen since the 1970s, why does it feel like America is becoming more dangerous? Depending on how you define “mass shooting”, some news outlets are reporting that mass shootings occur — on average — once a day.
The stridency of gun rights supporters and the power of the NRA limit my optimism for change. But how should I get used to this emerging reality?
Should I avoid crowded places like stadiums, malls, movie theaters? Oh, but I also have to watch myself at social halls, birthday parties, the street? Yesterday I researched where could I buy something called a “concealable vest“. Sure, it might get heavy but my life is worth $500, right? “Active shooters” probably can’t make head shots.
Perhaps we will return to the days when people would enter a saloon and have to check in their guns. Our public places may have to return to such a level of security to create “safe spaces” for normal people.
This new America just takes some getting used to.