An insight from Guatemala

The recent school shooting in Florida was a disgraceful display of cowardice that never should have occurred. I lived twenty minutes away from where the shooting occurred. It is terrible that events like this have to happen in order for us to have a discussion about the laws in place. However the USA is not the only country that struggles with this issue. Sadly, these important conversations do not happen in Guatemala either.

Guatemala is infamous for the amount of crimes that occur daily. There are about 109 murders per week, in a country of roughly 16.5 million people. Crime is a reality we have to live with in our country. Kids are taught not to go outside because they could get kidnapped or assaulted. Guatemala has never been very safe, but in its most recent history it has gotten worse. Thousands of crimes go unpunished yearly. The police tries to do its job, but corruption in the government and in the police force make it very easy for someone to evade the consequences of their crimes.

In Guatemala it is not easy to attain a weapon legally. You must be 18 to purchase a firearm, and it is illegal to carry said firearm until you are 21. Also, anyone who wants to buy a gun must go through strict background checks. So how do so many criminals obtain weapons? The answer is simple: they got them illegally. Getting an illegal weapon in Guatemala is extremely easy. Guns are smuggled in all the time, guns which people abuse.

Since these guns are used to commit crimes so frequently, it is impossible to have a debate every time something alike to the Florida shooting occurs. Horrendous shootings happen weekly. People generally don’t discuss whether we should have the right to bear arms. They know that the law doesn’t matter. Any change in policy will have no effect. People understand the corruption that exists within the Guatemalan government, so the new laws won’t actually change how people behave. Any criminal who desires to own a weapon will own a weapon. People here just don’t debate these subjects; they know it won’t actually fix anything. However, it is nice to see that in a country like the United States, these debates are finally beginning to happen.

by Isaac R