As a little girl I was once bought a cowboy suit. It was fab, it had a waistcoat complete with a Sheriff badge and a cowboy hat, there was a gun and a holster to put it in. I remember putting it on and prancing around the garden pretending I was on a horse. I never thought of the gun until one of my aunties watching me play asked me if I was going to shoot the Indians? At that point, aged about six or seven, I didn’t want to be a cowboy any more.
You see, when watching the Westerns that Mum liked so much, I always liked the Red Indians the best. With their feathered headdresses and magical tent villages I thought they were great. I had just not realised what being a cowboy meant.
Times have changed. We no longer use the term Red Indian and hopefully we don’t glorify the mass murder of the tribes by the white settlers any more. For that was surely what it was. The movie industry of my youth was full of epic films of this slaughter and everyone accepted it as entertainment
In 2015 the USA is paying the price of this invasion and slaughter. It is the right to bear arms, set into the constitution following all the history of the theft of native land, which means that today many, many Americans carry guns for their own protection. The protection afforded seems somewhat limited in the light of how many are killed by shooting. Guns are normal, we are told, and necessary. Well, in a week when a toddler shoots himself with a gun from his Mother’s handbag, and a group of people at prayer are shot to death in a church, is this really normal? Is it acceptable? Sadly these are just two instances of death by shooting that have made our news bulletins. I am sure there have been many more we will never hear about.
The President himself draws the diagram, and speaks of gun control. His voice is not heard. The gun lobby are strong and it seems to me it is in the psyche of these people that without a gun all will be lost, they will be unsafe and unAmerican.
I am left wondering about all the dead Native Americans, killed with weapons they could not fight against. A bow and arrow is deadly and accurate but no match for a rifle. It seems to me that all the land that had been cared for, respected and tended over generations and was taken by force from the tribes who had lived in peace with their world, is now worthless in a country where people are killing each other everyday.
I have no idea what will solve the problem of guns in the States, but I do feel that the roots of the problems are forever in the history of the land. The movies, the sanitised glory of victory over the native people and the fear of each other and of strangers seems embedded into some of the population.
As a little girl I knew that shooting anyone was wrong, I knew it instinctively and certainly. I was six when I realised just what had happened in the Wild West, and I continue to be saddened as I realise it is still happening now.