In some book I once read a phrase that —though I’m not good memorizing texts— I more or less remember. It referred to people who keep their weapons under lock and key. They would do this because they were afraid of using them.
Of course I didn’t understand this to be a literal reference to firearms or anything like that, but at the same time I found it a good segue for discussing the much bandied issue of violence.
When I came to Venezuela, the first thing that struck me when going out into the street was the presence of a pair of soldiers walking along with us carrying large automatic weapons, the kind I’d seen only in movies or museums. Like anyone who’s not accustomed to having such armaments so close, a light anxiety came over me. Whenever there exists an arm, there also exists the possibility of it being fired…of someone being injured.
It doesn’t matter that no one has that intention. The only thing required is that the rifle, revolver or machine gun exists. It’s not even worth having it concealed if its owner is aware that it could be used at some moment to take the life of another being. Therefore, it’s much worse if the weapon is unhidden, if someone is walking around with it ready to open fire on anyone in the streets of a city.
With the issue of the violence there always comes the matter of the “ends and the means”; meaning that if something works than that end justifies the means. A weapon serves a police officer or soldier in self defense against someone supposedly armed. In cities like Caracas, the matter becomes quite clear: either you kill or you’re killed, because the news is filled with reports of police and soldiers strafed by crooks or whomever. When violence reaches those extremes, reason becomes almost impossible.
But if a person in uniform goes out into the street with a weapon, they’re sending a message to everyone around them: I can kill you. Therefore, if they see a person assault someone else, they could make use of their automatic rifle, though what’s common is for the initial aggressor to respond but with even more shots.
How many people who don’t have anything to do with such gunfights end up crippled or killed because of this matter of supposedly defending the law and order? What security can be offered to a civilian in the presence of a firearm? Can violence be eradicated with violence?
I believe that even a child would understand that it’s a schizoid chimera to believe that one gun can prevent another gun from being fired, or that with a punch one can expect a kiss in return.