Columbine High School Massacre!
Red Lake High School Tragedy!
Virginia Tech Mass Murder!
Fort Hood Base Rampage!
Oak Creek’s Gurudwara Shootout
What comes to mind when we think of any of the above? It has surely got to be death, blood, gore, torture, pain, suffering and much more. More than just being massacres, the above are a few examples of how a society where guns are so freely available can be easily destroyed. It is an example of how guns are increasingly being used as a tool by people to vent out their frustrations, feelings, anger and what not. Gun culture has so deeply penetrated the American society that today there seems to be only little someone can do. Let’s look at why that’s the case.
Let’s start with some statistics.
– A 2011 Gallup Poll revealed that only 26% of the population supported to completely ban the use of hand guns. That’s the lowest since the first poll took place in 1959. The same poll also revealed that only 43% of the population favoured more restrictive gun laws compared to 78% when this was first asked in a 1990 poll
– USA has 90 guns for every 100 citizens making it the most for any country in the world
– USA has the highest rate of gun related injuries among developed countries
– Out of the 800 million firearms across the planet, 220 million can be found in the States
– An average of 8 people under 19 are shot everyday in America
– The Oak Creek tragedy is the 57th such massacre in the past 30 years!
According to the Second Amendment, every US citizen has the right to protect himself by a firearm. He / She can take this firearm to any public place if he / she thinks that its unsafe or a threat to one’s life. Today, you wouldn’t find too many houses in the States which don’t have at least one firearm. You would easily find cases where people are frustrated, angry or irritated that they aren’t allowed to take a gun to their offices or even to their schools. If you ask them what’s the use, their answers range from “I want to protect myself from enemies” to “Guns are embedded in our popular culture. How do you expect us to partake them?”
It would be unthinkable to expect a person not to have a gun in today’s American society. From Midwest farms to Manhattan’s skyscrapers, no one seems to think that the growing gun culture is causing any problem. One of the reasons analysts point out is the fact that Americans always think they maybe attacked by anyone. Whether its Al Qaeda or some local militias, they always feel the threat to their lives. And that’s why they want to be ready to attack at will. As far ended that sounds, Americans have taken it in them that guns run in their popular culture. It’s something like a status symbol. But then studies have proven that a gun at home is 22 times more likely to be used for an accidental shooting or murder rather than in self – defense.
One of the biggest factors in the easy availability of guns and the lax gun laws is the presence of the one of the biggest pro – gun lobby groups in the USA – National Rifle Association (NRA). Founded by ex – Army officers and awash with millions of dollars, this group has transformed into one of the strongest lobbying groups in Washington DC. They have the power to influence politics and tip the balance in favour or against any Presidential candidate. An example that comes to mind is Al Gore who vociferously campaigned for stronger gun laws and ending up losing because of NRA’s initiatives in his home ground of Tennessee.
NRA proclaims that having firearms helps people protect owners from criminals of any kind since they may have firearms of their own. But does someone ask the question as to why a person became a criminal in the first place? Poverty, Drugs, Racism, Economic Issues etc. all come to the fore. But no one wants to tackle any of these problems. Who has the time to sit and solve all of them? It’s just about producing more guns and making more money. Who cares if a few hundreds die in the process? That’s the mentality of every successive American government since they can’t afford to piss of the NRA as their political careers would be on the line if they do that. When the Colorado shooting took place, they banned Batman costumes at movie screenings. Would they ban going to places of worship after the Oak Creek Gurudwara shootout? Strange are the ways of American governments tackling the gun problem.
From where I see it, the growing gun culture with parents buying firearms for their children as young as 14 is the biggest danger to America today. When you see a family photograph, many a time you see children along with their parents holding guns as if to show that they have the power.
But then for the people who matter its all about bothering about Al Qaeda and their cronies. For them its all about condemning a gun crime as soon as it happens, running flags at half mast, conducting an investigation, making claims that the gunman was a loner, making the right noises for quite a while and then letting it be until the next attack happens!
The way its going, people will just have to be lucky enough to survive a Columbine or an Oak Creek. The day their luck is gone for a toss, one can call it quits!