Defining Darkness. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Darkness” as:
1. Absence or want of light (total or partial).
2. The quality of being dark in shade or colour.
3. Absence of the ‘light’ of life; death.
4. Gloom of sorrow, trouble, or distress.
However, when I was asked to define darkness for this project, I came to a somewhat different conclussion. Darkness for me, is everywhere. There are all kinds of darkness and dark forces in our world today, but I believe that the most profound darkness that we encounter is the production and distribution of small arms.
According to the Control Arms website; there are approximately 640 million guns in circulation today: adding up to about 1 per 10 people. Throughout the world about 800,000 guns are destroyed every year, but taking into acount that 8 million are made each year, we are left with the fact that for every gun that is destroyed, ten new guns are made. The problem only grows greater, and it doesn’t help that most states resell their surplus weapons instead of destroying them, ensuring the ever-increasing proliferation of guns across the world.
For this project, I wanted to adress this very serious issue. The general population is unaware and moreover, generally ignorant to the problem. I decided that in order to combat this issue, the problem of small arms trafficking and proliferation must be addressed by the use of addvertising the situation. Making a piece such as a poster is can be very effective in this way. It could be posted in a magazine, on a billboard, or plastered along a wall among the many posters for upcoming concerts and events. With more people aware of the issue at hand, maybe we can speed up this process of controling it.
Of course there are many organizations trying to address and combat this issue. Organizations such as Oxfam International, Amnesty International, the International Action Network on Small Arms (I.A.N.S.A.), and of course, the United Nations (to name a few). Treaties are being signed, pettitions are being collected, and campaigns are running their courses. However, even with all the support of this action of controling the trafficking and distribution of small arms and their components, one of the largest most influential countries in the world is still standing back: the United States of America.
Looking at my piece, you see a handgun wrapped in an American flag. It is without a doubt, a definitive attack on the US and it’s policies of gun control. The IANSA website states that from 1993 to 2000, the US was the leading supplier of conventional arms to the developing world, adding upto a profit, of USD 61.5 billion; and in 1999, the US manufactured over four million firearms for domestic sales. This country, which is supposted to be leading our world into the new and possitive future, has over 300 companies producing arms and ammunition, and has the world’s largest domestic market for small arms. There are over 200 million firearms in the private hands of Americans, and what makes this all worse is that private gun ownership in the US, is generally not subject to either liscensing or registrtion. The resale of arms is also unregulated. In contrast to this, Canada has only 5 million small arms in circulation among the general public, and all of those are required to be both liscenced and registered.
In June 2001, the United Nations General Assembly passed a protocol against the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms. The purpose was to promote, facilitate, and strengthen cooperation among States Parties in order to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts, components, and ammunitions. Of the 41 states which have ratified the protocol, and the 32 which have signed it; the United States accountd for none of them, once again standing back and not taking action when such a powerful and wealthy country should be. By neither ratifying or signing this protocol, the US has once again stated to the world that they are not bothered by this issue of the proliferation of small arms, and that they are willing to stand back and do nothing about it.
Concidering how many americans either have guns, sell guns or work for companies that make guns, it is absolutely absurd that the US generally has no policies about controling them. Arms are not registered or liscensed, the selling is unregulated, and the US is unwilling to back the UN and its policies about gun control. A powerful country such as this, with such nationalistic and patriotic citizens, should be be forerunning this campain, as they have such an impact on our world. Instead the average American is ignorant to the issue at hand, and in turn the Canadian as well, as we are so influenced by American advertising and pop-culture.
We are blind to the problem, therefore in my poster, you cannot see the gun, you can only see the flag: a symbol of weath and power and destruction. But the gun is there, and it is a problem. As it says below the image: “There is no flag big enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people”, which is exactly what is going on. The US is manufacturing and distributing these large quantities of small arms, both domestically and internationally, and in turn causing deaths worldwide. They are not the only ones doing this, but they are a significant portion of the problem, and if they would only crawl out from behind their flag, and admit that they are only perpetrating the problem, as opposed to leading our world into a possitive future, which they so often claim they are, then perhaps the numbers would lessen, and people would begin to aknowledge and understand the issue at hand. That is the darkness: the proliferation of small arms, and the ignorance that this isn’t an issue.