From Roe to gun rights: How values translate – or don't – across the world

How does the underlying value of "trust" shape citizen tolerance and intolerance of gun ownership and regulation?

David Zalubowski/AP/File
Tributes hang on a fence in front of a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, following a March 2021 mass shooting. With violence in the United States top of mind, this week’s cover story explores the role of trust in how societies think about guns.

Major news events like the devastating heat wave in Europe, revelations from the Jan. 6 committee, or the assassination of Abe Shinzo first rock a nation and then the globe. But then they lead the thoughtful reader to seek out context – whether that’s secondary questions on climate change policies, vulnerabilities in democracies, or a country’s gun regulations. Here at the Monitor, one of our driving missions is to help readers connect dots around the world. We recently attempted to do so on two news events that began in the United States but ripple out globally: gun violence and abortion rights.

We have a weekly meeting dedicated to cross-cultural thought, and in the days following the Supreme Court decision rolling back Roe v. Wade, we were discussing global condemnation of the ruling. But a U.S.-based staffer questioned the fury, when limits in many parts of the world can – depending on the state and rapidly shifting laws – offer less access than that held by some American women. There is no simple answer to his question, with laws and rights evolving from each country’s context and often looking very different on paper than in practice. But it made us realize what a hunger there is for cross-cultural examination of reproductive rights – and how countries believe the decision in the U.S. could impact gender equality at home. That report is here.

On guns, in the sad days after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, commentators filled my Twitter feed with questions like, “How is it that Americans value guns more than kids?” It’s a reflex (and not an invalid one), but it misses the context behind gun culture both in the U.S. and abroad. We decided to explore trust and how that shapes citizen tolerance and intolerance of gun ownership and regulation a recent cover story.

These global pieces are not meant to be a definitive take. They are intended to add to a body of work that, at its heart, aims to help readers understand the values behind the biggest news events in the world, because those values are universal.

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