"Between quotation marks"

by Ernesto Morales


After the sad events that have shaken the foundations of American society lately: shootings, shootings, murders of innocent children, hate crimes and many other calamities, I dedicated myself to searching for information for this article, and found by chance, forty-odd long and short films about Billy “The Kid” or Billy “El Niño, as it is known in Spanish. Due to his age and career, I had no choice but to compare him with the protagonists of the last shootings in the United States. 
Billy was the son of Irish immigrants and from his childhood he scrubbed floors and herded cattle to help his parents. Later he dedicated himself to robbing businesses and banks. More than 20 murders are attributed to him, although some historians say there were only 9. 
For some reason, perhaps linked to psychopathy, his crazy career was imitated by a herd of fans, but was cut short at age 21 when he was killed in New Mexico by the area sheriff. This ending did not prevent the posterity of horny minds from extolling him as an icon, becoming a legend of the Wild West. 
The films that testify from his birth in 1859 to his death in 1881 place him as a cowboy, quick to draw his weapons and without a drop of scruple if there was money involved. He was not afraid of duels, no matter how many against them and, due to the youth shown in the movies by film directors and producers -from 1911 to 2021- even today Billy "The Kid" has a multitude of admirers among a certain audience that applauds him in silence. 
The filmmakers tried to neutralize their fame by popularizing positive characters and inserting them into legendary Western settings. Strong identities in spirited horses capable of causing the admiration of young and adolescent brood: Roy Rogers and his steed Trigger, Hopalong Cassidy and his colt Tupper, and many others who dazzled young pupils. Despite them, Billy "The Kid" continued to arouse the admiration of the general public.
Going back through the historical and fictional passages, we can agree that both had common profiles: young, fair complexion, handsome demeanor, and skilled at drawing their weapons, bought on any corner -just like now-, or stolen from third parties, due to realized that there was not the slightest control to obtain and carry them and, in some way, they were protected by the Second Amendment, approved in 1791.
And here we come to the central theme of this writing: the United States has reported more than 300 mass shootings so far this year alone, leaving a sad balance of dozens of fatalities, including children. Such episodes - which are unparalleled in history - led me to immerse myself in the Internet and other media and found very interesting reports. I could not continue if I did not add the statistics that I stumbled upon in my investigative journey: 
The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany and Norway are among the Western countries -conservative regions- where, from mass shootings and extraordinary massacres with dozens of deaths and injuries, which occurred in their territories in the past, They decided to impose strong controls on the acquisition of firearms, which -whether casual or causal- has allowed them to significantly reduce such episodes, as well as greatly lower the numbers of homicides and suicides, to the point that said events in their countries are among the lowest rates on the planet. 
And Australia, even, in addition to the strict procedures and controls imposed, melted more than a million firearms in the furnaces, as a symbolic example for its inhabitants and, in addition, suggesting what other nations could do to get them out of the streets.
The United States, an exemplary country in many top activities of human performance: science, technology, economy, productivity, social development, health, education, and others, is lagging behind in this area, while clinging to legislation from more than 230 years -the Second Amendment-, when the arquebuses were loaded manually, fired a single bullet and their possession was not popular, in the strictest sense of the term.
I want to make myself understood: I believe in the concept and validity of the Second Amendment; I consider it to be a formidable tool that provides security and calm to civilized families seeking protection. However, the labyrinth of circumstances that have persistently surrounded the legislation in recent decades, the lack of spontaneous decision of the authorities with a more positive character in reference to assault rifles -especially the AR-15, AK-47 and pistols of high capacity -, with its repetition technology, added to the magazines and cartridges that carry multiple projectiles, leave the arguments that are supposed to validate the Amendment a little to the side of the road.
I have chosen three episodes at random that, from my point of view, bear witness to the fact that the society we live in must act urgently to prevent these incidents from continuing at this rate:
1.     17 students killed and 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, by confessed killer still awaiting trial, Nicolas Cruz, 19 years at the time of the incident 4 years ago.
2.    10 African Americans killed in a Buffalo supermarket at the hands of Payton Gendron, 18, accused of 14 hate crimes._cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_
3.    19 children and two teachers killed and 17 injured at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, by Salvador Rolando Ramos, 18, killed In the scene.
Without going too deep, at first glance, we find that some motivations that move the mental springs of the murderers to kill are childish, absurd and, sometimes, even ridiculous:
·    Untreated or poorly treated mental problems of the perpetrator.
·    Failure of government controls when checking criminal and health records.
·    Desire for revenge for having been bullied at school or in the neighborhood.
·     Eager for notoriety or recognition, and delusions of grandeur despite being young.
·    Wanting to imitate something you saw on television, the movies, or some other medium.
·     Intermittent psychopathy gravitating in the subconscious.
The United States has the highest per capita gun ownership in the world: 120 per 100 people. The gap is huge until the next country: Yemen, with 52 weapons per 100 inhabitants. What a coincidence that the United States is also the place where the most mass shootings and victims occur on the planet as a result of this statistic! What excuse do manufacturers give themselves? Have we seen someone die in the last century after being attacked by a person carrying a dinosaur tusk? 
The answer to this last question is "NO", for the simple reason that these museum pieces are very scarce, difficult to access, and are not available for sale to the public.
Doesn't it seem to you then that we should exercise more logical restrictions on obtaining and carrying weapons, in keeping with the reality we face? We are no longer in the time of Billy “The Kid”…or are we?!