'Guns don't kill people. People kill people' … Since when?
This is the famous slogan of the very influential firearms lobbyists, the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the United States. This organisation strongly advocates the rights of gun ownership to be a personal and moral right, denying any links between the lax laws relating to gun ownership and high gun-related violence in the US.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects the "rights of the people to keep and bear arms." This is embedded within the Bill of Rights. This amendment was drawn by the Founding Fathers in 1791, in a historical period when most people lived in agrarian communities and guns were used for hunting and for protection against Native Americans and highwaymen. Attempting to find actual sense in this inherent piece of the foundation of American society in the 21st century is to say the least, insanity.
There clearly needs to be a modification in the Second Amendment which can be viewed as anachronistic, belonging to the long-gone days of the wild, American frontier. Is the right to bear arms in today's society a necessity as it was over 200 years ago? And has this right not been stretched too far and a borderline obsession with the possession and usages of guns not ensued from this need to "protect" oneself? Has that "protection" not turned around drastically to cause many of the heinous crimes we see today?
Through the years, any attempt to place a control on guns has been viewed as unconstitutional. The false sense of security of being protected against intruders, thieves, terrorists amongst the proponents of guns illogically overtakes reason. It is fear in and of itself. The viscous cycle continues through generations because the more one feels threatened into carrying guns, the more an attacker is likely to carry one and the more accidents can result from it.
The latest mass shootings in the sleepy, peaceful town of Seal Beach, California, where the shooter walked into a beauty parlour and randomly shot and killed eight people and fatally wounded another is yet again a chillingly frightening reminder that a society's free access to guns, to the point where it is even a constitutional right, must be re-examined urgently. Who exactly are we protecting ourselves from … ourselves?
Of course, advocates of the possession of guns argue that many numbers of objects even in a household can be used as weapons, such as knives and scissors, and if a person is violent, he/she can use any number of weapons, hence the slogan, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." I have no extremely convincing arguments to ever be able to convince a gun supporter how utterly baseless that statement is. All I can say is: do we really need to add more weapons into our societies and our families apart from the ones which already exist in any ordinary household kitchen? Does it at all seem normal that one can walk into a retail store and depending on the laws of the state, be able to buy a gun as easily as buying groceries?
One of the most frightening mass shootings was undoubtedly the Columbine High School Massacre in Colorado in 1999, where teenagers went on a rampage and shot their school mates before turning the guns on themselves. Another example is the Virgina Tech massacre in 2007 by a lone, deranged gunman. Melanie Hain from Pennsylvania created shockwaves when she carried and openly showed her support for gun ownership by displaying a gun at her daughter's football game. I wonder: who was she protecting herself from at a children's football game?! Ironically, she herself was shot by her husband. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head (and miraculously survived) at a public political rally. Even the peaceful Amish community had seen a mass shooting in 2006 when innocent children were the victims. The list goes on and on.
Shockingly, gun sales increased immediately after some of these incidents because of the apprehension that this may lead to stricter gun laws. This also occurred after the election of President Barack Obama, fearing stricter regulations.
Amending the Constitution to prohibit guns is very rarely discussed. The right to bear arms is viewed as a civil liberty by many Americans. The debates are more about whether there should be legislations to impose stricter gun usage. Proposals for stricter gun controls include child-proof locks, background and psychological tests on gun purchasers, the outlawing of certain types of assault weapons and the most recent creation of a nationwide database of ballistic fingerprints in order to track down the movement of the nation's guns. Is this enough?
So much thought and effort into something which time and time has proven to be the cause of a fear factor and resulted in fear, as a result of mass killings of innocent people caused by psychologically disturbed individuals and groups.
The premise has gone beyond any reasonable discussion. Mass shootings due to gun usage have gone beyond US borders. When they occur in countries such as Norway, a country with a considerably low rate of crime, Finland and Germany, points must be raised as to what it is in modern societies, the stresses and psychological issues which people endure that do not and cannot mix with the free reign of gun circulation. Is it not high time to question these issues? With the current economic situation -- high unemployment, foreclosures on homes, stock market crashes, banking sector meltdowns, etc. -- it is obvious that the psyche of millions of people is negatively impacted. It is under such extreme psychological duress that many turn to taking out their frustrations on others and eventually themselves.
How many innocent lives have actually been saved by the use of weapons (excluding uses by the police forces) and how many innocent lives have been taken? The plain and simple question in my mind is: why should anyone have any access to guns except for the police and military forces?
As we approach another election year, this issue has made its way in the recent Republican Party debates where once again we are seeing the position of the candidates on the issue. Abolition I am sad to say will not occur in the United States. Statements from certain presidential candidates that if the government will not protect its citizens then they must do so themselves is basically taking the law into one's own hands.
We hear the same words crop up over and over again: fear, protection, the right to bear arms, constitutional right. Not one Republican candidate has demonstrated enough respect for the right to peace and not fear and the more essential respect towards the families of the millions of victims, too often even innocent children. What is to be done about this issue not just within the United States but globally? I would like to know that when our children go to school, they come back home safely and not have to even think about a possible Columbine nightmare.
"As long as there are guns, the individual that wants a gun for a crime is going to have one and going to get it." I could not agree with President Ronald Reagan more.