Thursday, 11 August, 2022

Country that Has More Guns than People

The Independence Day of the United States of America is the fourth of July. The day is celebrated with fireworks, concerts, parades, baseball games, etc. On Monday the 4th of July 2022 hundreds of people gathered along the streets of a Chicago suburb to celebrate Independence Day with marching bands, floats, and music. The festivity was suddenly shattered by gun fires. A 21-year-old man fired more than 70 rounds from a legally bought assault rifle at the crowd from a nearby rooftop killing 6 and injuring more than 35 of which one more died in the hospital.

According to data compiled by Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit corporation in the USA, this was one of more than 300 mass shootings this year.

We were shocked by the news of another mass shooting in a Texas school on May 24, 2022. In that incident, a teenage boy of 18 entered an elementary school with two military standard weapons and killed 19 children and two teachers.

We don’t know why the boy went on a killing spree – the psychologists might find the causes. But could that be stopped? Certainly, there are a lot of prudent suggestions out there on how to do that. However, ordinary people like us understand one simple thing, the accomplishment of a goal can be frustrated by restricting the means of attaining that goal. No matter how intensely somebody wants to shoot you in your head you would remain alive if he doesn’t have a gun.

Why the boy being only 18 could buy guns legally? Why does the law prohibit him to buy beer, lottery tickets, and a porn magazine but not a gun? Why does the country think that its underaged citizens have enough wisdom, prudence, and maturity to handle a gun but not a lottery ticket?

Laws of the land are written by representatives of the people. So, laws should reflect the will of the majority of the people and the customs and culture of the society. The existing gun laws in the USA could then be regarded as average American attitudes toward possession of guns. Why do the majority of American people want to own guns? Does it indicate a sense of insecurity or an aggressive mentality?

According to the estimates of the Small Arms Survey - an associated program of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Switzerland, there were 393,347,000 firearms in civilian possession in the USA against a population of 326,474,000 in the year 2017.

An article titled ‘America's gun culture - in seven charts’ published on the BBC news website stated that there were 45,222 deaths in the USA from gun-related injuries of all causes during 2020 of which 24,292 were suicide and 19,384 were homicides. The article also presented a chart showing the percentage of people who said gun laws should be made more strict, kept as now, or made less strict. As of October 2021, 52% were in favor of more strict gun laws, 35% wanted to keep them the same, and astonishingly, 11% - roughly over 36 million people wanted to make them less strict!

On June 25, 2022, US president Joe Biden signed a gun violence bill that would incrementally toughen requirements for young people to buy guns, deny firearms from domestic abusers, and help local authorities temporarily take weapons from people judged to be dangerous. That’s all. It doesn’t include a ban on assault-type weapons and background checks for all gun transactions. Even that bill was passed in the senate by a 65-33 margin that is, with opposition from 33 senators.

And, two days before Biden’s signing of the gun violence bill the US Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.

So, the future is anybody’s guess!


The writer is a former government officer and teacher