Today in Paris, France two gunman stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo claiming 12 lives and wounding several others who are not expected to live. The liberal magazine is no stranger to terrorist acts, as it was burned down in 2011 for publishing satirical images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
7 time zones away, I can’t sleep. When I saw the headlines on social media, I couldn't help to think that the France in me had woken me to tell me it was hurting. France is my second home. With so many connections, family, and friendships made over the years, 12 lives lost in the capital city is a scary number, and high enough to consider that someone I know could be a victim.
I was living in France when the Sandy Hook shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults, happened in December 2012. Friends would constantly ask my opinion about the events saying they didn't understand it. These things almost never occur in France.
“It seems like this is always happening in the United States,” they said.
“How can people be allowed to walk around with weapons like these?” they asked.
Yeah. It does seem like something like this is always happening. If not a Sandy Hook, it’s an Aurora. For the sake of dynamics, add on the Eric Garner tragedy and subsequent shootings of Officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano. How can people be allowed to have these weapons? Well, the 2nd Amendment authorizes it, and the National Rifle Association (NRA) swears by it. Meanwhile, The US spends a good amount (640 Billion, 2013) on military expenses.
If I had time I would tell those friends my theories on how my country simply was born of revolution and gun smoke, or explain my theories of societal indiscretions. However, sometimes I would have to settle for the simplest of responses.
“It’s just how it is.”
I’m not surprised by the headlines anymore, because stories about gun violence are on everyday. I don’t like it, but it happens. There are just as many, if not more, beautiful and interesting events happening in local communities and around the world, but, more often than not, sensationalism breeds ratings and readers.
That 2nd Amendment has the potential to be a two way street, where at least, maybe, probably, a gunman has a second thought on the more than likely scenario that someone he is about to attack has a concealed weapon. It’s understood within the context of our society as a possibility, no matter the view on gun control.
It’s not understood the same way in Paris, because it's not the same place. Maybe that’s why these events bother me so much. I know those old friends couldn't make sense of American violence, so I can’t imagine how they’ll fathom this. France is far from perfect, and French are probably the first to admit it. But this type of event is not ‘how it is’ there. There, like anywhere else, exists a specific breed of normalized issues , which in any other place would be obtuse. Two masked men running into a newsroom with Kalashnikovs is simply the nightmare Parisians wished had stayed in darkest depths of the catacombs.