Another Day in the Death of America (Review)
Forget everything you think you know about gun violence and pick up Another Day in the Death of America. Whilst we are regularly assaulted with mass shootings emanating out of the United States we are rarely pushed to discover the origins of the violence. The second amendment is the explanation we most readily reach for, but to rely on that solely is to avoid the cruel truths underpinning society in the United States.
My entry into Lahore came in the wake of a brutal shooting in the house I now live in and if you wrack your brain, you or someone you know would have been affected by gun violence too. To some degree we have a separate set of conditions underpinning our reality, but it’s still a phenomenon that deserves a lot more attention.
So what is the true cost to society if guns become an accepted reality? Gary Younge’s meticulously researched Another Day in the Death of America takes us through the deaths of ten children and young teens during one calendar day. He combs through public records, newspaper reports and social media to build a profile of the victim which come to life through interviews with those they leave behind. Each chapter bears the name of the victim, and where they live. As you read on you realise the location has as much to do with their death as the firearm itself. Some communities are in shock after the violent death; some respond with grief stricken resignation, some are torn apart, whilst others move on under a heaving cloud of denial and trauma. In almost all cases, the reactions relate directly to the likelihood of such an event in that place.
Racism, poverty, lack of jobs and infrastructure, mental health, parenting, and teenage recklessness each end up in the dock compounding the risks of preserving the 2nd Amendment. The incidence of gun deaths involving poor kids from the black community are the most harrowing as Younge establishes their relationship to racist policy, governmental neglect and an entire populations apathy. A relationship, he reveals, as evident to policy makers for decades now.
Reading how residents learned to tune out the sound of gun fire to go about their daily lives brings tears to your eyes. By the end of the book I found it almost unfathomable that American exceptionalism can exist alongside such inhumanity; that parents were forcing their kids to internalise ordinary teenage behaviour for fear of deadly consequences; and that an entire nation was hostage to the NRA who won’t allow enforcement of a minimum of protections for those most vulnerable to gun violence.
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