Prepping for the American southwest

For God's sakes, don't do a risk and compliance check
Regional definitions vary but Arizona and New Mexico (in dark red) are almost always considered the core of the American Southwest. The brighter red states – California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah – are classified as part of the West by the US Census Bureau. The striped states – Oklahoma and Texas – are classified as the South. Map: Secret Saturdays/ public domain

Reader, I’m off to the American southwest and before I leave, I’ve been doing my due diligence.

Not really. I use the words “due diligence” half in jest because I didn’t really audit and verify facts and information and nor did I conduct a proper risk and compliance check.

To do so might have been overly troubling.

In Texas (though the state is not strictly considered part of the southwest, just the American south), there was this year’s second-deadliest mass shooting in the US just days ago. A gunman opened fire at a crowded mall north of Dallas on May 6. It came within a week of a man in Houston killing five people after his neighbours asked him to stop shooting in his yard.

The Texas authorities say there has been an increase in impulse shootings since September 2021, when the state began to allow most adults to carry a handgun without a license. Texas, remember, has some of the most permissive gun laws in America and prides itself on having more than a million gun-owners.

But despite the spurt in mass shootings, there is little appetite to change anything.

And it’s not just Texas. New Mexico, another glorious part of the American southwest, has its own problems with guns and gun-related deaths. In 2021, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Mexico had the third highest total rates of gun-related deaths among American states.

What that means is, when you tot up murders, suicides and other categories, guns were involved in the deaths of 27.8 people per 100,000 people in New Mexico. That’s not a huge contrast with the two states that have even higher rates – Mississippi (33.9 per 100,000 people) and Louisiana (29.1). Nor are the two states at the bottom vastly different from New Mexico’s dreadful tally – Alabama (26.4) and Wyoming (26.1).

Sadly, New Mexico also figures on another gruesome list – places in America with the highest gun murder rates. It’s fifth from the top (11.7 per 100,000 people). The top three are quite a bit ahead of New Mexico – the District of Columbia (22.3 per 100,000 people), Mississippi (21.2) and Louisiana (18.4), but Alabama (13.9) at number four is only a little bit worse than New Mexico.

It’s not just the southwest, of course. On average, the US has had more than 39,000 gun deaths a year since 2014. Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that logs every incident of gun violence in the US, says that as of May 1, at least 13,959 people had been shot dead this year. This brings America’s rate of gun-related deaths to 115 per day.

That said, America is a country of 331.9 million people and gun violence, thankfully, still makes the news, at least there. It’s not taken for granted as one would sunrise and sunset every day. It is to such small shards of hope that one must cling.

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

Also read:

America’s guns story: ‘Anyone with an IQ higher than a mango’s can pass safety class’

Knees, guns and votes: US race relations in 3 words

The gun control lobby could be a lot more powerful in the new Congress

A diverse group of Americans literally just voted for their lives

How the world views America’s epidemic of gun violence: a chronic disease