Monday, December 07, 2015

Gun Violence in America

I have discussed/argued/talked about, hashed & rehashed this issue of gun violence in the USA with friends both American & non-American.   Gun violence IS a problem there.   No one can argue over this.  But when I listen to comments & views coming from gun rights supporters, I can’t help but feel astounded by how narrow-minded & skewed their viewpoints are.  I find lists easier to absorb than pure prose so here goes…,

1) “Guns do not kill people; people kill people”.  Somehow, the fact that it’s so much easier for people WITH GUNS to kill people than for people WITHOUT guns seems to have flown over their heads.  Terrorist attack in London by a guy with a knife – ZERO persons killed; 3 persons injured.  Terrorist attack in San Bernadino by two people with rifles & guns – 14 persons killed; 20 persons injured.  Do the Math.

2) “The government just wants to take guns away from us”.  Usually, “the government” here refers to the Democrats.  This is reflective of how divisive it has become in the USA: liberals vs conservatives.  It is hard for me to fathom the paranoia amongst the conservatives that the government wants to take away guns from everyone.    It is sad for me to see all the “shouting” that takes place on the internet between these two groups, instead of coming together to try to find answers. 

3) “We need to arm more people”.  I have come to realize that basically, the NRA & many of the gun rights supporters would prefer everyone to go into a gun battle in the name of self-defense than to avoid the gun battle in the first place by preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands.  I shudder to think of the scenario in which armed innocents go against armed perpetrators – imagine the carnage.  Even experienced law enforcement officers have said that even with training, when you are plunged into a life and death situation, much of what was learnt before doesn’t really work as expected.  Check out this video  

4) “Mental Health is what we should focus on instead”.  Of course we have to address this big problem.  But the fact is that mental health problems are not unique to the USA.  It is a problem worldwide.  And yet, only in the US do you see how mentally ill persons are able to get hold of guns and cause carnage in schools, movie theaters, churches, medical centers…. 

5) “There are already laws in place that require background checks when buying guns”   My response to this is: obviously, they aren’t working. Isn’t it time to sit down & relook at WHY people who should not have guns are STILL able to get guns?  Even as I write this, a bill which would make background checks on gun sales at gun shows & online a requirement has been overturned. 

6) ”We have the constitutional right to bear arms”  This view is probably the one which I find the most difficult to come to terms with.  The constitution was written over 200 years ago, in circumstances entirely & vastly different from current times.  I cannot understand the reluctance of many to accept that change may be necessary for the good of society.  The right to bear arms should not be all-encompassing.  There are some in society who do not/should not have the right to bear arms: the mentally incapacitated, the suicidal, the potential terrorist, the under aged, the intoxicated, the criminals, period. 

I know that this short essay will not make a difference to die-hard gun advocates.  I DO NOT consider myself anti-gun.  I consider myself pro-gun control.  Much like how pro-choice does not equate to anti-life, I believe that there are alternatives out there.  But it WILL involve compromise, as in most things in life.  As it stands, when I see what is being said and discussed on social media & on the internet,  I am not confident at all that the gun rights supporters will be willing to compromise.  It would be wonderful if I am proven wrong.

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