Different realities

Tonight, the Democratic primary debate is on in Huoston, Texas, and right now the ten presidential candidates are talking about the need of gun control regulation.

This is a discussion we would never see in a Finnish presidential debate, but in the US, it is a different reality. Here, there are 120.5 firearms per 100 residents – the highest number in the world. Here, almost 40,000 people died from guns in 2018.

Even writing about guns feels strange to me, because guns are such a foreign concept to me.

[In Finland, there are 32.4 guns per 100 residents – which apparently is one of the highest numbers in Europe, and which also lands us in the Top10 of civilian gun-owning countries. Huh, didn’t know that before writing this blog post.]

Anyway, I would lie if I said that I didn’t think of the frequency of gun crime in the US before I moved here. I am way more aware of the possibility of guns here than I am at home, and way more aware that the streets might not be as safe as they seem, partly because of guns. That is why I first wasn’t so excited when I was added to the Ring account for the house I live in.

Ring is a security camera system and video doorbell connected to an app. Via the app, I can access the security camera at our front door to see who is ringing the doorbell. This part is fine and quite practical.

What Ring also does is that it creates an ‘online community’ of neighbors, i.e. others who use the Ring app, and generates a feed where people can report thefts and other crimes (as well as upload high-quality videos of people stealing Amazon packages from their doorsteps), and where news of police operations are posted – and often there is a police operation when there has been a shooting.

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned no-go zones in DC, such as Anacostia. The Ring app’s Neighbor-function has proven this no-go rule to be correct – do not go to Anacostia. Because almost every time I happen to check the app, there are new reports of shootings, and very often the location is somewhere in the southeast in Anacostia.

The app also tells you how far away you are from all the crimes and thefts and stabbings and shootings, and frankly, at first I felt quite uneasy knowing that 1.5 miles away, there’s been a shooting two hours ago.

The frequency of the gun violence in this city became very real to me via the app.

I suppose it’s a good thing, though. It reminds you to be aware of your surroundings wherever you go, and to use your common sense when you are out and about, wherever in the world you are.

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