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ON GUNS, RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE AND THE BRIDE PRICE

Ever handed a child a toy gun before? What’s the first thing they usually do? Shoot at you, right? And you have to complete the act—clutching your chest, feigning pain and shock, as you sink, slowly, to the floor—lest they think your gun is veritably useless, right?

Stay with me.

In the wake of the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida—the deadliest mass shooting in US history—that left 49 people dead last year, discourse on and around gun-control measures reached a fever pitch. Calls for tightening gun-control legislation, for reviewing and strengthening background checks for every new purchase, largely by the left increased. Interesting enough, the Republican-led Senate, just two days after the shooting, rejected four gun-control measures, mostly due to the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the personal interests of the (largely Republican) senators.

Now here’s the thing: For years the battle for stricter gun-control laws has been waged on the floor of the Senate and in the streets. Almost every year, we have had the unfortunate opportunity—in another mass shooting here, another black-on-black violence there—of witnessing the deleterious effects of loose gun-control policies. Almost every year, we witness the NRA engage in its usual tomfoolery, skewing facts, all in a bid to avoid admitting to the obvious: that thanks to the 2nd amendment, there are just too many guns in the hands of Americans. In 2012, the NRA named violent video games as the cause of the surge in gun-related deaths in recent years. This is without considering the fact that Japan and South Korea—two countries with more violent video game consumption per capita—have a combined number of deaths due to gun violence per 100,000 people way less than the US? So why exactly are there so many shootings in the US?

Availability of guns.

Q: But if everyone in the US owns a gun, why hasn’t everyone been killed?

Q: but if all Muslims are terrorists, why aren’t you all dead?

Q: but if the bride price causes the man to act violently towards his wife, why aren’t all married men beating their wives?

You must’ve heard these questions, in one form or the other, over the years.

On the surface, they seem like the genuine question to put forward in defense of gun ownership, religion and the bride price.

But I contend that these are the wrong questions to ask.

The question to ask is basically: why and how are these things related? Why, for instance, is religious violence rampant in Islam, when compared with other religions? Why is the availability of guns tied directly to the number of gun-related deaths? why and how is the bride price related to the violence within the home?

Justification. Opportunity. Availability.

Because human nature is inherently flawed, irrational, complex. The problems that beset society lie within us. It’s why society invests a lot of resources in social reform programs. Corporations spend a lot of money putting up strictures that prevent employees from committing fraud because most corporations understand it: you cannot change human nature. But you can fine-tune it. And that involves removing any and every opportunity for it to return to its basest.

Convince a man he owns another man and immediately watch him begin to act like he does. Such is the nature of social conditioning. Hand man an opportunity to act out, and watch Murphy’s law take form.

Like the bride price for instance. There’s a sense of entitlement that forms when a man pays bride price to the family of the woman. Subservience, submission and quietude is expected of the woman after payment. One only needs to take a cursory stroll through the untarred paths of our rural communities to witness this reality firsthand. A lot of men—too numerous for comfort, especially in this part of the world—believe they paid for their wives, and thus own her. Now, no one is saying that every man who pays the bride price automatically thinks he owns a woman, no. No one is saying that MEN are saintly—do not hit women—before paying the bride price. No. but look very closely. Just like if you look very closely at gun related deaths in the US you’d most probably find out that lax gun laws are not far from the reason for the death. Just like if you look closely at a religion-related death, Islam is not afar off from the crime scene. Look closely. Chances are you’d find a bloated sense of entitlement that comes with payment of bride price not far off from the scene of the last maltreatment of a wife by her husband.

Knowing this, you wonder why feminists clamor for the scrapping of the bride price system.

Written by Godswill Vesta


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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