Source : Google photo shows guns being destroyed in Australia
Synopsis: The gun violence in many countries is taking many lives yet this problem can be solved as some countries show the way. This blog treats this subject with solutions.
The recent tragedy in a Florida High school where a person killed scores of innocent students who had no idea that their lives were to end soon in such a meaningless way highlights the serious problem of gun control in America. They had absolutely no chance to defend themselves so died pitifully. They were very young, full of hopes and aspirations like any young teenager. Their parents never knew that some of them will never return from school that day when they saw them off going to school in the morning like any other day so imagine their shock and anguish when they were told that their sons and daughters have died in a massacre.
This sort of mass shootings happen all the time in the United States that have taken the lives of innocent people by hundreds with perhaps more to follow. The kids are now growing up thinking that at any moment their lives may be cut short by someone who is angry for some reason and decides to shoot so many people to vent his anger. Remember the Korean kid who shot so many people in a university campus in Virginia? Remember the Las Vegas shooting or the killings in a movie house where teenagers were enjoying an evening with pop corns with their friends?
The latest shooting in Florida once again makes people protest and want gun control but who listens? A politician was asked point blank by a survivor of the Florida shootings if he took money from the gun makers to which he tried not to answer directly but the kid insisted on a straight answer. Finally under intense pressure from the audience the politician said that the gun makers believed in his agenda so donated money to his campaign for election. It was an indirect admission that he took money from the gun makers in return for gun control laws favoring them. The meeting was televised nationwide so millions watched this awful admission live but the kid who asked the question is now getting death threats from the pro-gun people.
The gun makers sent their agent to say that guns don’t kill people, only people do and the right to bear arms is written in the constitution etc. but these are the same lines they keep on repeating every time there is a mass killing somewhere so it brings no comfort to the grieving parents and re ignites the debate on gun control and laws to prevent private gun ownership. The question to ask is why private people need guns and why buying automatic military grade weapons is legal and for what purpose? How many countries in the world allow guns in the hands of private citizens?
Let us now take a look at some countries that have very successfully banned the sale of weapons to the public and where mass shootings are very rare so we will go to Australia first. There the government offered amnesty to gun owners for a limited period to turn over their weapons in return for a small amount of money so hundreds of thousands of guns were turned over to the government that then destroyed them. No one carries gun there except the authorized people like the national guards and the military.
There is absolutely no reason for anyone to carry a gun but try it in the United States and they will tell you that it is their right enshrined in their constitution. It does not matter that the constitution was written a very long time ago when the country was practically lawless and is outdated. It does not matter how senseless such laws are and it does not matter how many people want the gun laws to be changed so that no one carries a gun with intent to shoot innocent people just because he is angry at someone or something.
We all know that nothing is written in stone except perhaps what Moses brought down from the mountains and people by popular referendum can change the constitution and the laws that protect the gun owners. In some countries the constitution is changed to prolong the power of an elected official like in China but in more democratic countries, people at least theoretically have the power to make meaningful changes to the laws. So can’t people make their theoretical rights into a reality?
Why can’t the government take away the power of the pro-gun lobbyists who offer money to the election campaign of anyone running for office? Why some people are allowed to corrupt the democratic process of election with money with impunity? Why large corporations are allowed to donate huge amounts of money to the campaign run by politicians? What do they want in return for such largesse? We all know the answer to that.
The answer to this question is not very complicated. The election in the USA costs lot of money so the candidates seek such money from any source they can find and will take money from the gun makers and other companies that harm the environment through their toxic wastes and making products that harm the health of people. The tobacco lobby comes to mind that gave the politicians a lot of money to overlook the harmful effects of tobacco on health but retreated under pressure later.
Could the gun makers be made to stop selling guns to anyone who had money? Could a nationwide campaign to change the gun ownership laws really succeed where money and profit making speaks louder than the collective will of people? I know that it is an uphill battle but this battle is not impossible to win although hundreds more may have to die before the victory flag is planted on the hill like in Io Jima. Is this battle any less important than Io Jima?
There are many countries where people walk in complete safety because no one is allowed to carry a gun. In India, in China, In UK and most of Europe you will not see anyone with guns. Even the policemen carry only a stick called baton and nothing else. It does not mean that crimes like shootings at stadiums or other public places do not happen but that is called terrorism that has its roots in some political grievances. The mass killings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the Manchester shooting, the train bombing in Spain or the mass killings by the Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai have all been linked to some political ideology they believe in and are willing to kill and die for it.
But the gun laws that protect the gun makers and allow them to sell the guns to anyone with money does not make sense because some politicians need money to win elections and who put their personal interests above the common sense interests of the people and the nation. As I wrote above, the laws can be changed and even the constitution can be changed that has outlived its usefulness so that it can be in tune with the demands of the changing times.
Why the governments worldwide have tightened emission control laws and penalize the car makers or others who pollute the air? Why people are going for solar power and wind power worldwide and shutting down coal fired plants that pollute the air? It is because it makes sense. Why the Australians compel the cigarette makers to warn the smokers of the health hazards with graphic illustrations of cancer on their packets? Because it makes sense and because the government there knows that smoking is very harmful to one’s health.
Could not the same logic apply to guns? A father carelessly leaves a loaded gun in the house that his 3 year old son grabs and shoots his little sister because he is imitating the violent cartoons he watches on TV all the time. What if there were no violent TV programs that kids watch and there was no loaded gun left in the house by a thoughtless person. The guns don’t kill people; people do is such a lame excuse that no sane person believes it.
I remember a time in Vietnam when walking down the streets in Saigon was dangerous because there was a war going on so the guns were plentiful and the people were fighting for their freedom. If you go to Vietnam today, you will find a vastly changed and a very peaceful country because the end of war allowed people to go back to their normal lives. The war creates the condition for violence like in Iraq or Syria or in Somalia. The continuous fighting in Afghanistan for decades has created the condition for lawlessness there that feeds the demand for guns legally or illegally.
There is a village near the border with Pakistan where there are more than 5000 gunsmiths in just one place .They can make or reproduce any gun for a price so anyone who wants a gun illegally can go there and get what he wants. There is no back ground check and no identification is required. They do not ask what the guns will be used for. The fact that some guns explode in your hands because they are so poorly made is another matter. Also there is a gun culture among the tribes there due to their blood feuds that can run for generations so everyone carries a gun or rifle. This gun culture is a tribal thing and not sanctioned by the governments in either side of the border so there is little control.
Now if the gun culture is promoted by the constitution and supported by the immoral politicians who take money from the gun makers and protect their industry in return then it is altogether a different matter. There the private citizen’s lives are at risk like in Florida or elsewhere because anyone can buy a gun and shoot some people in a crowded place just because he is angry. People who get fired from their jobs take a gun and shoot up the manager or the office people. Some jilted lover shoots up the girl who rejected him and people who are plumb crazy go on a rampage for reasons that no one can understand.
Did you know that you can get shot if you fail to see a No trespassing sign somewhere in the States? Just ask yourself why the policemen there carry loaded guns all the time and some trigger happy policemen shoot first before they ask questions? Why could not they just carry a baton and a whistle just like in other countries?
There is a social reason for the gun violence in America. It has something to do with those who are failures in their lives because they drop out of school and get into the life of drug, sex and crime. Such people live in a marginal society at the fringe of the community in the company of likeminded people because they are failures and cannot assimilate with others and live a normal life. Their poverty, joblessness and misery related to their lack of education makes them angry and frustrated so sooner or later they blame everyone else for their problems starting with their parents and their dysfunctional family that lives in dire poverty, where domestic violence is common and where alcohol flows that is called moonshine in some places.
The lack of assimilation led to the Korean kid to shoot up people in Virginia University campus because he felt angry at people who rejected him perhaps due to his ethnicity or looks. In any suburbia where the community is diverse and full of immigrants who fail to assimilate due to their faith, culture, language and food breeds isolation among the residents. People look at them with suspicion because they are different so are avoided. Their kids may have a hard time mixing with other kids socially at school and in the community so they may be frustrated and may someday take out this frustration on others with guns.
The gangster movies and violent TV programs create the culture that guns are normal. Now some politicians are suggesting that the school teachers should carry guns to their classrooms to prevent further shootings. It is like adding fuel to the fire. The policemen who were at the Florida school and heard the gun shots did not intervene and stop the shooting are now being reprimanded for not doing their job. Could an untrained teacher stop the shooter when professional policemen in full battle gear and trained in handling guns failed to do so?
The cowboy movies are still popular because they remind people how wild the west was in the olden times not realizing that the cow boys are still around and their weapons are more lethal than the ones they used to shoot up the saloons. I think that the debate on the issue of guns is not going to end anytime soon so more people will die while they argue for or against it in town hall meetings or on TV. The sensible gun control laws will be enacted only when the proponents of guns are defeated soundly and more sensible politicians are elected who are not beholden to any gun maker for money.
It can happen only when elections are funded by the common people to support their candidates like they did for Obama but for that to happen, people have to believe in the candidate and believe that he or she can bring about meaningful electoral reforms that include campaign financing. As long as the politicians are beholden to the gun makers for campaign money, nothing is going to change and the gun violence will continue.
Or you could move to Australia.