Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Lethal merchandise

On April 12, a lone gunman sent off smoke grenades in a crowded subway car and then fired at least 33 shots with a 9 mm handgun in injuring around a dozen commuters, five of them seriously. According to media reports, data of 2018 made available in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDCP) from National Center for Health Services revealed that 38,390 deaths by firearm of which, 24,432 were by suicide. Again, data in the USA reports that about 10,40,000 people have died from firearm between 1968 to 2011. In 2022 alone, from January to April 12, there have been 224 shootings throughout the USA where 173 were killed and many more injured. These killings have become almost unbridled in the USA mainly because the powerful gun lobby has effectively blocked all attempts to either strictly regulate sale of guns or impose severe penalties on carriage of use of unlicensed weapons. Gun culture was first coined by Richard Hofstadter in an American Heritage article critiquing the gun violence in the United States. As in the past, in the aftermath of such incidents, there have been immediate calls by politicians, victims, and advocates for reforms to America’s gun laws – but proposals to expand background checks or ban certain types of guns typically haven’t gotten very far. This is because the lawmakers in the USA are divided on the issue. The prominent supporters or pro-gun lobby( favouring unrestricted access and use ) such as former US president Donald Trump and his Republican party, maintain that the problem was not guns but mental health of those involved in shootings. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said assault weapons bans didn’t work in the past and wouldn’t work now because there are so many guns already on the street. However, research does not support a link between being diagnosed with a mental health disorder and an increased risk of committing a violent crime, according to experts in the field. The ordinary American citizen maintained that – “If a bad guy wants a gun, they’ll find a way to get it.” The USA boasts the highest number of civilian firearms per capita – 270 million, or 89 guns for every 100 residents, according to Small Arms Survey research published in 2011. In mass shootings in public places — so called “soft targets” , the conversation often turns to whether churches, schools, or other places where large groups of people gather need to increase security to prevent future incidents. The pro-gun lobby believes that schools and institutions or citizens have the option to arm themselves for protection. What has kept guns from being brought under government control is the USA’s Second Amendment which affirms that – “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.” Despite mounting pressure for gun control, a 5-4 decision in 2008 by the U.S. Supreme Court declared owning firearms an “individual right.” Though the Democratic Party is by and large in favour of gun control, yet the powerful gun lobby in the USA has its say. That freedom has turned gun shops in the USA as numerous as paan shops in India.