Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life.I might have been tempted to use "Because" rather than "Despite," what do I know?
To many foreigners - and to some Americans - the tolerance of guns in everyday American life is simply inexplicable. As a New York Times columnist put it recently: "The nation is saturated with violence. Thousands upon thousands of murders are committed each year. There are more than 200 million guns in circulation."The problem here is that the premise … that America is saturated with violence … is simply incorrect. What we are saturated with is media reporting the violence that does occur with relentless abandon.
Why is it then that so many Americans - and foreigners who come here - feel that the place is so, well, safe? I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns.That's because it is so niced here! Incredibly, this reporter has just observed that the notion of a nation awash in violence is incorrect, despite the ubiquity of firearms. Perhaps even more incredibly, he considers this a paradox, not a cause and effect:
"It seems so nice here," they quaver.
Wait till you get to London Texas, or Glasgow Montana, or Oxford Mississippi or Virgin Utah, for that matter, where every household is required by local ordinance to possess a gun.This is like saying that despite the low crime rate, there are more people in jail than ever. But the author, for all his observation of more guns and less crime, can only find one overriding reason for the "Peace and serenity" of America. We don't drink like the Brits:
Folks will have guns in all of these places and if you break into their homes they will probably kill you.
They will occasionally kill each other in anger or by mistake, but you never feel as unsafe as you can feel in south London.
It is a paradox. Along with the guns there is a tranquillity and civility about American life of which most British people can only dream.
What surprises the British tourists is that, in areas of the US that look and feel like suburban Britain, there is simply less crime and much less violent crime.Yeah, that's it. Americans are all armed to the teeth, and the reason we're not shooting it out in the streets is simply because we aren't drunk enough. This is a reasoned report? Finally, the author, having gone to great trouble illustrating how peaceful and safe it is here, goes on to say it's proper to associate the US with great violence:
Doors are left unlocked, public telephones unbroken.
One reason - perhaps the overriding reason - is that there is no public drunkenness in polite America, simply none.
I have never seen a group of drunk young people in the entire six years I have lived here.
It is an odd fact that a nation we associate - quite properly - with violence is also so serene, so unscarred by petty crime, so innocent of brawling.It's an odd fact that a nation so non-violent is properly considered violent? The odd fact is the insertion of the word "properly" into that sentence, after a lengthy piece proving that "erroneously associated with violence" is the correct formulation.