Growing up as a child in Karachi, I was exposed to naked guns, on the streets, in the papers, and everywhere. When children are so exposed it desensitises them to the concept of violence and replaces fear with resistance. It also fosters the desire to own a gun and then use it.
What happened recently in Karachi when over a hundred people were killed last month is testimony to this fact. Truman Capote wrote a book about the brutal murders of a family – the book was called In Cold Blood – and about the experience of writing it, he wrote: “No one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me. It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.” It makes you wonder what kind of courage and heart you need for such criminal and brutal acts. But if you juxtapose it to our society, it may just become easier to interpret. It is partly a crime of the society too. Not that I am defending those who commit such inhumane acts by shifting the burden of these crimes partially upon our society. But the overall environment of where we live, what we see around us greatly shapes our thoughts and actions.
Whoever wants protection, wants to possess a gun because they are against a force with weapons. Everywhere you go, you see a gun. From the security guards sitting outside to the Ranger’s cars, gun nozzles are pointing at you. Official motorcades also have police protection mobiles with men thronging out of the back with their huge guns pointing right at your faces as you drive your car behind them. Such lavishness with weaponry fuels resistance and an eventual acceptance to guns and that in many ways could be a reason why Karachi has suffered the most gun crimes.
Is keeping a gun, an answer to the mode that everyone else has one? Does it give you a false sense of security, providing you with the thought of protection against a potentially fatal attack? But what most people do not realise is that in most cases, it will remain an illusion and will not translate into any real security.
So, the choice is ours, and that means each and every one of us. We can continue to live with the insensitivity going on with our daily lives while dozens of people are being killed in the city or we can choose to actively address this issue: to de-weaponise. Once we kick in this thinking and change our mindsets, only then can we start this process.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2010.
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