The phrase ‘compare and contrast’, generally used in school English exams, always irritated me, because the word ‘contrast’ is redundant. As I understand it, ‘compare’ means ‘point out the similarities and differences between…’.
Nevertheless, I have used this phrase in the title because it brings to mind a test for children, and to me there are screamingly obvious parallels between the issues of the gun trade in the USA and the global trade in illegal drugs. Most children can surely understand what is happening here?
Please see my list of similarities and differences below. I hope you will find it thought-provoking. Feel free to comment, but please look at the ‘recommended reading’ links before doing so.
‘Drugs’ (heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc.)
|legal (in the USA)||generally illegal|
|widely available (in the USA)||widely available|
|vast amounts of money made in the current legal framework||vast amounts of money made in the current legal framework|
|use increases in unequal and fractured societies||use increases in unequal and fractured societies|
|relatively less worthwhile to smuggle as relatively low value per weight/volume||relatively more worthwhile to smuggle as relatively high value per weight/volume|
|While users are at increased risk of harm, non-users are very often the victims. Most of the guns used in mass shootings in the USA were obtained legally.||Users are generally most at risk, but these risks are largely associated with the illegal status of these drugs and not with their inherent properties.|
|Those who benefit from the trade are ruthless in their overt lobbying and use of misinformation and propaganda to maintain and extend its legal status, upon which their profits depend.They use crises to push their arguments, ignoring rational analysis of the facts.||Those who benefit from the trade are ruthless in their covert lobbying and use of misinformation and propaganda to maintain and extend its illegal status, upon which their profits depend.They use crises to push their arguments, ignoring rational analysis of the facts.(Go figure: a significant proportion of world trade is associated with illegal drugs. What political parties and media do you think this money finds its way into supporting?)|
|associated with other nefarious activities, such as tax-dodging, bribery and lobbying for war||associated with other nefarious activities, such as tax-dodging, people-trafficking, smuggling of endangered wildlife, timber, etc.|
|Gun-ownership should be far more strictly controlled, and some weapons banned altogether. Fingers crossed, the public is waking up.||Drug-use should be decriminalised, and some drugs legalised entirely. Fingers crossed, the public is waking up.|