Imagine waking up one fine morning, to the sound of birds chirping and the occasional gunshot. Walking through the streets always on the lookout for suspicious bulges in people’s pockets, knowing that 34 to 42% of the households are in possession of a lethal firearm that could potentially blow brains in an argument between angry individuals.
No, we are not talking about Grand Theft Auto.
Welcome to America! An average American is more likely to die from a gunshot than cancer.
It is no secret that it is significantly easier to obtain firearms in the United States than in most countries. Living in a country like India, we are no strangers to violent outbursts and high crime rates. However, a society where guns are legally owned by civilians, where guns are stocked at WalMart (right where ordinary people go to buy groceries), is unimaginable to us. Any citizen over the age of 18 can purchase a firearm by filling up form 4473 and going through a simple background check.
According to statistics, a U.S. male aged 15–24 is 70 times more likely to be killed with a gun than their counterpart in the eight (G-8) largest industrialized nations in the world (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy, Russia). Since 9/11, the number of American citizens killed by terrorists is less than a hundred, while tens of thousands of them have been killed as a result of gun violence. The question arises, why is something that seems so obviously wrong, still protected by the law?
The answer lies way back in the past. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution (1791) reads:
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This implied that possession of guns was a necessity, both for the state and the individual. Now it can be agreed upon that although arms could have been necessary in the 18th century, we don’t exactly need an assault rifle for survival now. Hence the notion that gun-rights supporters have that the right to possess a firearm is a fundamental one, is obsolete. Guns were also supposed to protect people from the “tyranny of state”, but in modern times there are more peaceful ways to express dissent. A citizen should not be legally allowed to wage armed warfare against the government.
The thought that is prevalent is that every man is responsible for protecting himself and his family, therefore reducing dependence on the government for safety. But all this law does at the end of the day is that it legalises violent vigilantism. Also, a significant number of suicide cases result from a person shooting himself/herself. It will be wrong to solely blame guns for this, but it cannot be denied that America would have been a more peaceful place with proper gun control and law enforcement.
The National Rifle Association is an organization that spends billions of dollars each year to influence public opinion. They claim to safeguard gun rights and offer strong resistance to the passing of gun control laws.
To fully comprehend the gravity of the situation, let’s analyse a statistic.
From January 2014 to May 2018, only six months exist where there have been no reported instances of gun violence in a US school.
It is not that hard to tell that the situation is an alarming one. Tens of thousands of people and hundreds of organizations have spoken out against the inefficiency to curb gun violence. Gun control laws should be passed with immediate effect before another Texas High School shooting or a Florida High School scars the youth of America.
The last thing a parent should be worried about when he sends his kid to school is for his kid to be shot dead during recess. America is in dire need of a political leader to address this issue, a leader who takes it upon himself to bring about a paradigm revolution in the way the American leadership thinks about gun laws.
By Aritra Guru