Is it safe to travel to the USA?

This is a common question I get when I talk about my business, selling travel experiences to foreign lands. We feature mostly Central and South America, Cuba, and Africa.

Say the word Cuba and some folks freak out. I’ve heard many say they’d be afraid to go there. When I ask why, they say something that sounds like it came from a Humphrey Bogart movie about gun running  and rum, and had nothing to do with Cuba. Honduras has the most murders per capita but goes back and forth with El Salvador. Those are mostly gang related murders and our company does not sell any gang related tours. I could go on and on.

Then I ask them if they lived in a foreign country, would they consider it safe to travel to the USA? We are a big country and very spread out. I’m sitting here on Cape Cod and thinking of the massacre in Las Vegas, two thousand miles or more away. But I also have a winter home in Austin, Texas, and this weekend, starting tomorrow, is a huge outdoor music festival. The ACL Festival takes place over two weekends and approximately 450,000 attend each year. After last Sunday and seeing the mayhem in Vegas, I’d reconsider. Texas allows anyone to carry a gun openly or concealed. Does this mean that anyone in any situation might have a weapon on them? This must increase the odds of being shot by a tremendous figure, either by a lone shooter or by anyone in the crowd who happens to have a gun on them. Mayhem on top of chaos.  I can only hope that festival attendees must go through a screening and that the festival grounds are gun-free.

These laws – does this imply that everyone needs a gun? Are we all on the defensive?  Has anyone really read the second amendment? It applies to another time, another place. Anyone who spouts off about it is suspect in my opinion. If you can’t see the difference between the late 1700’s and today, you need to go back to school. We have a militia, it’s called the Armed Forces, as in Army, Navy, Air Force etc. It’s not the People’s Republic of Texas, it’s not any crazy ass ‘militia’ hoping to keep America white. The only people who should have guns are professionals, police, soldiers, and the like. They are trained and know to use them in certain situations. And automatic weapons? They have only one purpose – to kill people.

In contrast to the US, in Cuba it is against the law to have a gun unless you are in the military or a professional hunter.  According to Safearound.com, it is considered “generally a safe country with almost no violent crimes, organized gang culture, teenage delinquency, drugs or dangerous zones. There is a strict and prominent policing known as the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) that keep the streets safe from violent crime. This does not mean you should let your guard down; it is still recommended to use your common sense as you would in any big city.”  Additionally, when you meet a Cuban on the street who asks where you are from, s/he is excited when you say USA.

Can we say the same about the US?  The odds of any visitor, or even me, being in a massacre like the one on Sunday are astronomical. However, we have mass killings in the US (meaning 4+ people) five out of every 6 days. And what if you are dark skinned? Or a woman? Are you subject to abuse of some kind? Those odds are probably much smaller.

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