- An elephant in the room : Gun culture in Texas and America.
According to national statistics, more than 100 people are fatally injured in the United States every day. The weapons in the hands of citizens are about 400 million.
I’m not here to judge or criticize, as I think there are many things to consider when choosing to be in favor of owning weapons or not. I’m just here to write about my impressions so far living in Texas, a State strongly supporting the so called American Gun Culture.
The interests of the proponents of the massive spread of weapons among US citizens rest on powerful lobbies. First of all, the NRA (National Rifle Association), one of the most influential lobbies in the country.
Another issue is related to the sale of weapons between individuals without any verification on the buyer's account, called background checks, which would instead take place in the event of a sale in authorized armories. However, this method of purchase is very common and often takes place at weapon exhibition fairs.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the institution responsible for protecting citizens from crimes related to weapons, explosives, arson and diversion of tobacco products. It is the only federal agency with jurisdiction to control the US arms industry, responsible for tracing weapons across national borders, but its budget is very limited.
Cinema offers its audiences the opportunity to enact a critical point of view on gun culture in the United States too.
Movies such as “Bowling a Columbine” by Michael Moore and “Elephant” by Gus Van Sant are among the most famous titles, which dealt with the topic in totally opposite ways. The first is a documentary which claims that Americans are as obsessed with weapons as they are with control.
The film “Elephant” does not accompany the viewer in front of the problem. It overwhelms him silently, immerses him in his senseless and tragic reality, in an atmosphere of unreality.
“An elephant is in the room” is a saying in English to indicate that there is a huge controversial topic but nobody seems to acknowledge it or wishes to discuss about it.
Coming from a country where weapons are very much regulated and restricted, it is certainly more evident to me how the gun culture in America affects public opinion at times, but it remains a taboo topic for the most part. It has its roots in a history for which having guns is as normal as having a car.
In America, and even more so in Texas, people appeal to their constitutional right to defend themselves with a weapon and many keep a gun or a rifle in their home as a defense tool to use “just in case.”
This right was born within the colonization of the American territories by the Europeans, as an instrument of defense.
Calling again on cinema, films are the mirror of these habits: in fact, almost in every American film, there is always a pistol or a rifle hidden inside a family home.
In Texas it is also possible to carry your gun around (unlike in other States) so people can walk around with a dangling rifle as if it were a handbag.
The debate moves precisely on these two poles in America. There are those who defend firearms not only as a defense tool, but also in the name of the sanity of those who use them. On the other hand, those who are against it rely on the paradox of a violent object to be safer. Firearms are undoubtedly leading in a completely different direction. If they really created security, the United States would be the safest place in the world, but the numbers speak for themselves, that's not the case.