Gun related violence is unacceptable: There has been a spate of school shooting and other gun related incidents in US, the most recent being in movie cinema in Aurora Colorado and a Sikh temple (Gurudwara) in Wisconsin. In the rest of the world, we hear of occasional such incidences; last major one that we can remember was in Denmark last year. In many countries, such a large number of gun violence is almost unheard of. Aurora shooting has left 12 dead and more than 50 injured, Wisconsin has left six dead and several injured. Gun related violence requires serious attention from all of us to do everything possible to prevent such killings of innocents in future. Prudence and common sense demands this as our duty to our children and society.
Constitution, culture and US politics: Right to carry arm has its roots in the early gunpowder control incident of 1975. The independence movement from British soon inscribed it in populous psychology. Higher courts have always upheld the right of carrying arm for self-defense. The US was won over from the indigenous Indians by way of superior power of guns of early settlers, while Indians only had spears, bow and arrows. Then the westward movement of those settlers also required arms. Hence gun ownership is ingrained in American culture.
US history is witness to the fact that gun owning is a very sensitive issue. Politics and psychology has played it such that second amendment right to carry arm is almost taken to be a mandatory duty and not just a right. Supporters of carrying arms, like National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners Association of America (GOA), besides the manufacturers and vested interest lobbies have further created a hype of an invisible enemy.
Need of today: Times have changed since independence of US. We do not have wars with our neighbors and Wild West is no wilder. We all must respect necessity of owning guns for self-defense and pleasure of hunting. However, common sense tells us that these do not require automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Ownership of gun must be allowed but some common sense rules and laws must be enacted to avoid and prevent accidents and the guns going in the hands of criminals. There should be some rational control for its purchase and records with appropriate authority. Most of the old British Empire (now British Commonwealth countries) has such gun control laws, which works fine. They have minimal accidents with guns because they are simply not around as much as we have in US.
Some relevant statistics: Some of these tell us the simple truth that it is simply larger number of guns around that creates many of our problems.
- US have about 5% of population of the world but have 50% of all the guns of the world.
- In US there are more than 80 guns per 100 citizens, as compared to less than 10 in most of the world. Even guns, are closely monitored by proper licensing and records with authorities in almost all countries.
- In US there are more than 11,000 homicide deaths per 100,000 populations as compared to around 100 in countries like UK, Japan, Australia and Canada. That means homicides are almost 1000 times more in US.
- The correlation of larger number of guns with big numbers of homicides and accidents is so obvious.
- One reason given for such incidents is that it tis the work of psychopaths and mentally ill people. However, US do not have any disproportionately higher number of such people than the rest of the world.
- The kind of arsenal that we find used in such accidents truly belongs to the soldiers in army and certainly not needed by civilians.
Other relevant facts:
- Gun related crimes are much smaller in number in countries with good gun control laws
- Gun related accidents are almost unheard of in countries with gun control laws
- One can relate with the groups and people wanting to own guns in this violent world of recent days, but for such needs appropriate weapons for defensive use may be licensed and registered by authorities
- There is no reason that high powered and multi bullet magazines may be allowed beyond some reasonable number of shots in a magazine
- In US there are almost as many guns as the population and some of these are left easily accessible to children causing risk of accidents
- In countries like Switzerland, almost every adult has a gun, but they are all trained in militia and teach their children how to respect such lethal weapon and hence have only rare gun related accidents
- Abundance of gun availability has caused four of our US president’s lives in 11 assassination attempts
Conclusion: It is high time that we legislate some common sense laws about guns within the ambit of constitution instead of living in paranoid fantasy about some non-existent threats. Let us all work on it with our hearts and souls and stop ranting about the constitutional rights of owning arms, which is harming us more than doing good.
We must at least have some common sense laws enacted to ensure that such arsenal do not fall easily in the hands of criminals. Proper permitting procedure and registration of weapons will reduce such possibilities. Substantially. Multiple numbers of guns in majority of the households also poses a risk of accidental injuries to our children because they are not always secured well and children are not trained to respect these lethal “toys”.
We should at least define the following through legislation:
- What criteria should be used to allow the possession of guns?
- What is the largest caliber gun allowed to any civilian?
- What should be biggest magazine capacity for civilian use?
- What kind of arsenal can be owned by anyone?
If we did not define this, the present laws do not clearly tell who can buy and own even larger cannons and nuclear weapons. It is our duty to sort such an important matter in an amicable way and prevent potential risks to our society.