December 2 2015

Watching An American Mass Shooting From Mexico

Another day, another American shooting, this time in San Bernadino. There seem to be more and more of them since we moved to Mexico, and all I can think of when I see them is how glad I am that we got away. That’s right, I said it. I feel safer here in Mexico than I would in the U.S. right now.  

My children don’t have to do lock down drills at school or worry about what their classmates have in their lockers. They don’t have to go through metal detectors to get in or submit to police dogs’ inspection. Parents are recognized on sight instead of having to log in with a driver’s licence through a computer in the vestibule.

We can go to a movie theater or shopping mall and it never crosses my mind that we might be shot.

The driving might be atrocious, but there is no road rage. No one is going to get out of their car and attack us for driving too slowly or cutting them off.

There is petty crime here in Cozumel  because people are poor, but being hurt or killed on purpose here is very unlikely.

Mexico has this reputation of being a dangerous place, that the drug war is raging and people on the street are getting caught in the cross fire. In certain places that is true…but not everywhere. It is possible to avoid those certain places and live a normal life in safety, and that is the difference that makes me feel safer here.

In the United States right now all bets are off. There is no respect for innocent bystanders, there is no rhyme or reason to these terrorist attacks that are coming from our own people, and there is no way to know what’s coming next or how to avoid it.

Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Columbine. These places become have household words, known markers of violence and tragedy in our society.

What’s happening in San Bernadino today is the 352nd mass shooting this year in the U.S. Don’t believe me? You can look it up on this website that tracks Mass Shootings in America-yeah, that exists.

“Please lock your doors and stay inside” tweets California House Representative Pete Aguilar. The responses vary from “@RepPeteAguilar @sbcountysheriff please please do something to make some change happen. We need more than prayers – we need ACTION” to “Everyone arm up and shoot murderers on sight.”

I wonder how people can still be arguing about this problem. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t demanding that we do everything possible to fix it. Not find a way to fix it, not blame it on someone else, but do everything and anything that might stop people from deciding that the way to solve a problem is to kill someone else. Gun control, paying for improved psychiatric care, political changes, what part of it is objectionable enough or profitable enough to let another one of our neighbors die while we argue?

Mass shootings by our own citizens are not a problem that’s isolated to one area, to one community, to one religion or one ethnicity. It’s bigger than that now. It’s touching us all, and there is no place safe from it-not schools, not churches, not your job or your night out.

I don’t understand why every single person isn’t saying, “Whatever we have to do to make it stop, I’ll do it.” I don’t understand people who are worried about their own personal privileges and rights above solving this kind of widespread social problem. I just don’t understand what has happened to my country.

Sadly I think it is cultural, and cultural change is slow and difficult. Merriam Webster dictionary online gives this definition of culture:

: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

It’s not about guns. It’s not about mental illness. It’s not about bullying. It’s not about prejudices. It’s about ALL of these things and more. It’s things deep in our culture that has led us to this place in the United States. Americans have to change together if we want to stop having shooters threaten us in our everyday lives, and it’s an understatement to say that’s hard. It’s overwhelming.

It’s also the responsibility of every single person, not just the legislature. We have to make it a priority to figure out why someone would think it’s ok to do this, how it might happen, and stand together to make it clear that it has to stop. Right now we are not standing together, and our divided house is rapidly falling apart.

Living abroad is my way of showing my kids that there is another way, that they don’t have to live in fear. I’m teaching them that they are in control of their own lives, their own happiness, and that there is no point at being mad at someone else when you don’t like your life. That when someone else makes them unhappy or threatens them the answer is not to go vigilante but to try to find out what caused the problem in the first place and help solve it. It’s that simple for us, the first step in changing our own family’s culture.

I may be far away, safe in Mexico, but my heart looks back on the news coming out of my country and aches with sorrow. Doesn’t yours? Now what are we going to do about it?

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Posted December 2, 2015 by amelia @ in category "2015", "Archives", "Uncategorized

About the Author

Amelia Lynch is an RN turned Travel Writer who opted for a simpler life in a bigger world. In July 2015 she and her family moved to Mexico to start exploring with no plan to stop. Hoping to inspire others to take the leap and follow their dreams, this blog will share the ups and downs of being a traveling family. Come along for the ride!


  1. By Doris Denny on

    I have lived in Mexico for many years….first came in 1994….built a home and live here full time…I feel very safe……I come to USA twice a year for a couple of weeks….every city I visit ….the TV shows killings. I am so thankful to live in Lake Chapala, Mexico.

    1. By Kevin on

      Lake Chapala seems like an amazing place. And in general probably pretty safe. They’ve only discovered like 100 bodies from the cartels there, though 🙂 But non-mexicans are prob safe. Here are the top 50 cities world wide for murder (probably that have any reporting) – only 3? in USA but 10 in mexico. Just interesting…

  2. By Kevin on

    I hate to see these types of articles because they tend to build on a premise that isn’t nec true, or is in general a preference. I don’t know too many people who would feel that Mexico is safer than the US. I’m not saying that it isn’t, – I wouldn’t know.

    But certainly, safety anywhere in the world is relative to the circumstances there and other issues. I read a blog where an American? woman said her child was slapped very hard in the face by a muslim woman in Afghanistan? for no apparent reason. The child wasn’t murdered – but still…

    The issue of rights is personal and equal – in my opinion. You and I have the same rights no matter where we are in the world. I have the right to arm myself and defend myself, just as you do.
    The problem is that governments around the world trounce those rights. So we all, in my belief, have the right to arm ourselves anywhere, but your government where you are may override those rights.

    But let’s assume that we all enjoyed those rights globally. How do we deal with character? I choose not to take your stuff nor injure you. You do the same. We live in peace. We both may be armed to the teeth. But no one cares because we respect each others rights to own property, stuff and live our own ways.

    When another person or tribe or nation comes and wants our stuff, well what can we do about it but defend ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s your neighbor, or neighboring country. They’ve decided that they want you, your land, your stuff, or just plain that they want to injure/kill you.

    You see, legislating away rights never protects you from people who have “character” issues – whether they be mental, “cultural differences”, or emotional, or drug influences, sugar imbalance (look up twinkie defense).

    The issue isn’t really law, it’s people – doesn’t matter if it’s individuals – rich, poor, ethnic, cultural, gender, etc, or corporations, or governments. Bad people exist. They always will. And many want power – look around the world (Africa, Asia, Russia, Middle east, China – even here). People are always vying for power – in the family, in the city, in the state, HOA, fed gvt. And many are trying to get more power. Someone is always trying to tell us we shouldn’t have the right to do something.

    And I STRONGLY disagree. We have every right to make up our minds, or do as we please – up to and until it injures another person. That’s why there are arguments over smoking – does smoking injure those around who don’t smoke? Legalize drugs they say. It doesn’t hurt anyone – well not usually, but the moment you drive, or make choices that injure others, then it does.

    We have the right to protect ourselves from people who want to do us harm – and they will always exist, in every generation, in every place in the world.

    yes, there is much more complexity – and many boundaries that exist – personal, geographic, etc.
    But taking away rights never protects us from those who will break the law anyway – no matter where in the world you are.

    Did you know you can 3d print guns, or use a lathe – a common machine shop tool to make guns. Outlawing guns will NEVER prevent them from existing or from people wanting them. So will we regulate lathes, and 3d printers like we do pseudofed because you can make meth from it. It’s a long slippery slope and MUCH of it is for political election, but rarely does it help.

    Take my comment all with a grain of salt as I love that you are in Mexico despite my own fears of going. Sounds exciting and amazing especially for the family as a whole. We’re just beginning our RV trip around USA and we live near San Bernardino (turns out they were muslim terrorists potentially) but we think we’ll be safe – even if we don’t carry a gun.

    1. By amelia @ (Post author) on

      Thank you for your in depth and respectful response. I believe conversations like this are the first steps that bring people together to find solutions we can all agree on.

      I think gun control arguments often cloud our shared desire for things to get better and all of us to feel safe. I don’t advocate taking away guns because, as you and others have said, bad people will always find a way to get them. I do want a return to respect for the power a gun holds. I grew up with guns-the first thing I was taught was how dangerous they are, never to treat them lightly or carelessly. Never to point them at anything I didn’t intend to kill.

      In the rush to claim our right to bear arms, what about the right to public safety? The right that I would advocate for is to walk down the street, go to school, go to work, and not be in such random danger as we seem to be now. Call it personal perception, blame it on the news coverage, but I don’t want to send my kids to schools that have to regularly practice defensive drills. When I see someone carrying their handgun in public or their rifle over their shoulder, how do I know if that person is a defender or an antagonist? It’s a fine line, and not a straight one, and I don’t pretend to know the answer. I’m just trying to start the conversation.
      Enjoy your travels. Maybe you’ll start a blog and we can see the U.S. from your perspective.

  3. By Gretchen Smith on

    “About Mass Murders in the United States
    The mass shooting in San Bernardino is at the top of the news today. These events get a lot of press, and even more comments on the social networks. I have already seen dozens of comments on other Mexico-oriented sites which refer to the San Bernardino incident, and the incident at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs a few days ago, and use them as proof that the US is more dangerous than Mexico.
    However, the facts show a totally different picture. While any loss of human life is tragic, let me demonstrate how these events are actually very rare in the United States. In order to do that, we first have to define the term “Mass Murder.” A little research shows the most commonly accepted definition is that a Mass Murder is a single event where four or more persons are killed.
    Using that definition, there have been a total of 41 mass murders in the United States to date in 2015. In those mass murders, a total of 210 persons were killed. Last year (2014) in the United States there were 14,249 homicides, which includes both murders and manslaughter. So, the mass murders so far this year account for a little less than 1.5% of all homicides in the United States. That is it, 1.5%.
    Now, in Mexico for the period from January through October, 2015, there have been 27,240, murders. If the same pace continues, by the end of the year there will have been 32,700 murders. That is 230% of the total number of murders in the United States in a typical year.
    But, Mexico only has one-third the population of the United States. That means, when you standardize for population size, Mexico has six times more murders per capita than the United States.” Jesus Juarez Torres

    1. By amelia @ (Post author) on

      I too have seen each shooting all over every web page I open, which is why I felt the need to speak up.
      While I appreciate your input, this is not about how many people were killed in each incident. If you look at the link to the tracking site that I included, many of the incidents did not involve your criteria of four or more persons killed so they don’t qualify as “mass murders” but the fact remains that there was a shooter and multiple people were injured, if not always killed. It shouldn’t matter how many people died at how many shootings. The fact that people feel that killing people because they’re unhappy is an option is unacceptable, and the fact that it happens as frequently as it does is horrifying.
      In Mexico there are areas of violence, but it is usually coming from different motivations such as the narco traffickers, where as in the U.S. it seems to be more and more random. That is what makes me feel unsafe, and this article is from my own personal perspective not from any agency tracking the numbers overall for either country.

  4. Pingback: Watching An American Mass Shooting From Mexico | Costa Maya Mahahual

  5. By Robert L Maudlin on

    This isn’t your country anymore so stop preaching. You are a coward and nothing more. Telling people they need to change everything while you run away to Mexico? Why are they still coming here? We enjoy the freedoms that hundreds of thousands of American patriots have died for so if you can’t understand why people are fighting for their rights that are laid out in the Constitution, then you belong in Mexico. You will make no difference by running away from the things that need changing.

    1. By amelia @ (Post author) on

      Are you no longer an American because you crossed the border? We are exploring the world with our children, we have not renounced our citizenship, we aren’t trying to run away from things that need changing but trying to show our children that the way it’s done at home is not the only way to do things. If you think America is so wonderful you should understand why “they” are coming there, to our nation made of immigrants. From what I see here there are plenty of them happy to stay at home and plenty of people from other countries made welcome here. I think you missed the point of trying to work together to solve our problems and stop being “us” and “them.”

    2. By Nancy Sathre-Vogel on

      I am so tired of the “if you don’t like my vision for America, then leave.” That solves nothing. Traveling the world is a great thing and it – in no way – lessens one’s “Americanese.” I am American regardless of whether I happen to be in Egypt, Ethiopia, Taiwan, or Ecuador – and to suggest otherwise is an indication of the shallowness of your thinking.

      We need to work together to solve this problem – black, white, rich, poor, liberal, conservative. Together. And yes – even those Americans who happen to be living abroad are part of this – and can be part of the solution.

    3. By Donna Meyer on

      Those of us who have moved to Mexico are still US citizens. We still pay US taxes. We still visit, have family in the US, and we still care about what happens in our home country. I live in Mexico as well, but that does not make me Mexican. I still fight for US causes I believe in. I donate to candidates I agree with. I sign petitions. I have even been known to travel to demonstrations in the US. I even pay into US programs I get absolutely no benefit from. On what level of your imagination is that running away? And as for your Us vs them remark…. Net Mexican migration to the US is now a minus number, i.e. more of “them” are returning home to Mexico now than are going there. They prefer it here too.

  6. By Sue on

    Safe in Mexico ? Tell that to the parents of the two Australian surfers recently murdered in western Mexico.

    1. By amelia @ (Post author) on

      I have been following that story and was sad that they seem to have come to a bad end. No place is 100% safe, but I’m talking about my own perception of safety. Knowingly going into a dangerous area is one thing, having a shooter come into your work or school or shopping mall is too much for me.

    2. By T.W. Anderson on

      First and foremost, as someone who has been living in Mexico for the past going-on-six-years, I can say with certainty that the country has its good and bad sides, just like any other.

      Statistically, the country is as safe, if not SAFER THAN, the United States to the north.

      However, just as much as L.A. or New York or Chicago have their suburbs that are gang-controlled and you simply don’t go unless you want to end up as charred meat, caught in the crossfire, Mexico has pockets of the country which are controlled by cartels. Sinaloa is one of them.

      You can’t go to the movie theater any more in the United States and many parts of Western Europe without running the risk of getting blown up or shot. So don’t try to make claims about how Mexico is some dangerous place that should be avoided.

      The two dudes who have apparently been killed while out caravaning in this pocket of Mexico somewhat brought it on themselves. I say this not out of direspect to the family, as what they are going through is a horrible situation. But I say this to bring light to the fact that the reason this happened was NOT because Mexico is a dangerous country, but rather because they were in a small corner of the country where THEY SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN, and suffered from one of the most basic mistakes out there: failing to do any research beforehand.

      I get it. The lure of the unknown. Wanting to seek out the last few places where humanity exists in fewer numbers. Virgin waves and all that jazz. But you gotta think that in the back of their minds, at some point, there should have been some warning bells going off, REGARDLESS OF WHAT COUNTRY THEY WERE TRAVELING IN, along the lines of, “maybe we should look into whether or not this part of the country is safe?”

      This is no different than the lone motorcyclist who was found dead in Michoacan a couple years past. Michoacan is a cartel-controlled pocket of Mexico. The guy had no business cycling there, much less alone.

      I don’t wander the streets of New York city at two in the morning because I’ll likely get mugged. I don’t go into the gang-controlled sections of L.A. I also don’t wander into the cartel territory in Mexico.

      So far, I’ve managed to live a fairly safe and uneventful life.

  7. By Pierced Wonderings on

    The sad truth is that something like 98% of Americans are in favor of gun control. The very great majority of Americans *want* change because they are sick of their children and loved ones dying. The problem is the NRA has a stranglehold on our government. We can’t even study gun violence and have it funded by the government because the NRA has our government in their pocket and they are unwilling to accept any additional limits because they are terrified that it will lead to more limits.

    There are all sorts of things that can be done ranging from the small (tracking gun violence back to the shops that sell the guns) to the larger (requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance), but our government doesn’t have the guts to stand up and do it.

    1. By L. Scott Harrell (@lscottharrell) on

      You’re flat out wrong “Pierced Wonderings” – I’ll give you the latest, most liberal, left-leaning poll conducted only about a month and a half ago (October 21, 2015) by CNN:

      “Nearly three weeks after the latest mass shooting claimed the lives of nine people, 52% of Americans now oppose stricter gun control laws, 6 percentage points more than the 46% of Americans who support such laws. That’s a wider gap than in June when CNN last surveyed Americans on gun control, finding that the public was equally split at 49% on the issue.”

      There was a 3% margin of error. Two other polls at the same time put the number of those supporting stricter gun control at 47% with a smaller margin of error.

      Wishing it to be true, does not make it true. With that said, the rest of your argument is equally invalid with the exception that the clear thinking among us are indeed worried about the erosion of our Constitutional rights.

      1. By Pierced Wonderings on

        You’re right I got my numbers wrong – 90% of Americans are in favor of gun control like Universal Background checks.

        Because I disagree with you doesn’t mean that I’m not “clear thinking.” It simply means I disagree with you. There has to be a balance to be struck because this should not keep happening. Other countries can figure this out; we can too. There are ways to balance our rights with our safety. Because you are more interested in attack – however subtle it may be – than discussion I’ll leave you to it.


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