Why Mass Murder is More Likely in America


 

  Why Mass Murder is More Likely in America than in other Advanced Nations    

                                                          By Bill Honer

 

After reading part of the first paragraph, one might assume that I am a supporter of the NRA. Such is not the case. The prevalence of guns within a country does not always a result in high homicide rates. Guns are widespread in Switzerland and Israel, yet these nations have low homicide rates. Gun-control is needed more in America due to the social distance between Americans that renders it easier for its citizens to kill one another. The fundamental problem is therefore not guns, but rather the very cultural soul of the United States, with its emphasis on individualism that separates Americans from one another, rather than bringing them closer together as a society.

 

The latest mass murder in Connecticut left me, as it did most, deeply moved and saddened. The ages of the children rendered this violence especially tragic and poignant. Sociological studies, conducted by Geert Hofstede and others, revealed that no nation the world has a greater shared sensibility of individualism than America. This deeply held value that each individual is responsible for himself rather than a shared responsibility within society is implicitly a national rejection of a sense of community. It is currently reflected in the saying of some Americans “why should I pay for someone else’s health care?”

Statistics compiled by the United Nations office of drugs and crime revealed that the homicide rate for the United States (4.2 per 100,000) was four times greater than other advanced nations of Europe (Sweden 1.0, England 1.2, Norway 0.6, Italy 0.9, Spain 0.8, Germany 0.8, and France 1.1.) Given the higher incidence of homicides, the United States has its work cut out for it to join the other nations of high human development in achieving a lower homicide rate.

 

Strict gun-control is therefore essential simply because it is too easy for Americans to kill each other. There are 12,000 dead Americans in the last year to support this argument.

However, greater efforts have to be made to help the United States become a nation

of shared dreams and aspirations. This will not be an easy task. The spirit of 19th-century rugged individualism runs deeply through the core of American society. The welfare Reform Act of 1995 that resulted in millions of children being thrown into greater poverty was called The Personal Responsibility act. In effect, the message that was sent was, “don’t tell us you can’t get a job, don’t tell us you have no one to take care of your kids, don’t tell us that the job you found does not pay enough to support your family, do something about it yourself. Don’t expect society to help you.”

 

If America is to achieve homicide rates commensurate with other advanced nations, social distance between Americans must decrease. Asians, African-Americans and Latinos are more open to having government play a role in their lives than are the majority of Whites, according to a PEW research study. Given the decline of the percentage of Whites in the total population of the United States, there is hope for

common dreams in the future, but how long will it take to achieve them?

(Bill Honer is an Author and Social Activist)

 

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