During a failed 2018 bid for the 2026 World Cup, Morocco highlighted its limited gun crime threats, particularly compared to the United States. At that time, the murder rate in Morocco was 3 in 100,000, which seems comfortable compared to 5.3 in the United States. The rate has remained more or less the same in Morocco over the past four years. By comparison, the United States experienced more gun-related deaths in 2020 than any other in recorded history. This reporter recently had the opportunity to interview a Moroccan native, via email, about perceptions of US gun violence from a Moroccan perspective.
SAMPAN: What were your first impressions as a child of the role guns played in the culture of the United States?
When I was young, the movies that prevailed were westerns and thrillers. Guns were the solution to every conflict and the hero was the best and fastest gunslinger.
SAMPAN: What role did firearms play in your life as a child growing up in Morocco?
Real weapons never existed in my childhood and adulthood because they don’t exist. Possession of firearms is simply not permitted by law.
SAMPAN: Describe the penalty for illegal possession and distribution of firearms in your country. Does Moroccan popular culture (television, music, cinema) value the use of firearms as has so often been the case in the United States?
Illegal possession of weapons is severely punished. If someone is caught, he will be judged by the military court and sent to prison for a long time. Weapons are not a problem in Moroccan culture, which is why they are never mentioned or used in Moroccan films.
SAMPAN: How long have you been in the United States? Were your friends and family afraid to know that you were coming here and that you were probably more likely to experience more gun violence here than in Morocco?
I have lived in the United States for over 20 years. I never felt threatened for my life or the life of my children because the shootings usually happened in places where they were supposed to happen. However, since 2016, life has changed dramatically in America. Random shootings and massacres became more common. The murders last weekend in four different states are a good example.
SAMPAN: Do you think the importance of guns in American culture is an inevitable fabric of who we are? Considering that the West has been “conquered” by pistols and six-shooters, and guns have been constant since the beginning, how can we change? How can we distract our children from feeling that guns are the only way to solve problems?
Guns in America are here to stay. Changing mentalities is a long process. We must first establish stricter laws on companies that manufacture and market firearms. I think if it’s easy to know where a bullet is coming from, it should be easier to know where the gun is coming from. By doing so, we can punish the weaponsmith who let it fall into the wrong hands. Hollywood and game designers should stop glorifying guns and start directing our children’s attention to more constructive issues.
SAMPAN: Are you confident that US lawmakers and our President, now or later, will be able to write and pass sensible gun legislation? Can America’s gun problem be solved in your lifetime? If so, how? Tell us how Morocco has kept its gun violence so low. Do you have any suggestions for immediate and long-term US security regarding gun accessibility?
I am not convinced that the legislative or executive branches of government will do anything to put an end to this phenomenon. I saw them stutter when a reporter asked them about gun control. Going against gunmakers is like committing political suicide, lawmakers think. Why can we allow firearms but only with rubber bullets?