America’s unhealthy obsession with guns

Easter is a happy day right? A time to celebrate and get together surely? However, in USA (precisely Chicago) this year, it was a rather dark and gloomy day – marked by bangs, bloodbath, screaming, pain and death – as 2 people were killed and 43 wounded in a plethora of shootings over the weekend. 

What was really shocking was that out of these 45 people, 28 were shot in less than 18 hours – that’s almost 2 shootings every hour!

People of every age group were affected; male and female both. I am not a Christian, but in my opinion Jesus definitely was not resurrected to see people trying to fix their problems by using guns. And all this happening in the US of A – the land of the great, the land of opportunities, the land of freedom, one of the most developed countries. All are on paper. The reality is as different as fire is from water.

The Gun Violence Archive(GVA) [Based in Washington DC] is a non-profit organization formed in 2013, in order to provide the American public information about gun-related violence. It is an online archive of gun violence collected from more than 2000 media, law enforcement and government sources; to provide real-time data about the results of gun violence

According to the GVA, in 2017 so far; there have been 4475 deaths and 8762 injuries due to gun violence in USA, out of which 102 were mass shootings, and 764 were home invasions. Also, out of these; 188 children and 925 teens were killed or injured. Given that the 2nd quarter of the year has just begun, the statistics are shocking. More over, the number of deaths have steadily increased; from 12557 in 2014, to 13492 in 2015 and 15090 in 2016. The number of mass shootings have also gone up in proportion; from 274 in 2014, to 334 in 2015 and 384 in 2016.

Researchers belonging to University of Nevada-Reno and the Harvard School of Public Health, using data from the World Health Organization; found out that the supposedly great America’s gun homicide rate was 25 times higher than in 23 other developed countries in 2010. For 15 to 24 year olds, the gun homicide rate in USA was 49 times higher. Firearm-related suicide rates were 8 times higher in USA. Overall firearm death rate in USA was 10 times higher. 90% of women, 91% of children from 0-14 years, 92% of youth from 15-24 years, and 82% of all people killed by firearms; were from USA.

This is 2010 data, but there has so far been enough evidence to suggest that things have not improved since then; in fact they have only got worse. About 600000 guns are stolen every year; as per research at Harvard and Northeastern Universities – meaning a gun is stolen every minute! Moreover, according to research at Yale University; at least 40% of gun owners obtained their firearm without a proper background check.

All this clearly suggests a complete lack of gun control, and wilful use of guns by all sorts of people. This is something that has been happening for decades, and not a single government has taken any significant step towards curbing the use of firearms. Are the authorities truly concerned about the safety of their people, or are they more concerned about the profits from sale of weapons? An even more worrying aspect is the obsession of the public with guns.

According to Gun rights advocate, lawyer and author David Koppel; there is a deep and enduring connection in the US between firearms and lawful self-governance. According to him, Americans have a deep connection to their sense of freedom; which urges them to keep the 2nd Amendment – following the civil war; which allowed individual to keep their firearms in their homes in order to fight against racial persecution and tyranny by white extremists like the Ku Klux Klan.

All this sounds like an excuse to me for people to use guns at will. So simple isn’t it? If you don’t want to use a gun, you are not an American! Governments and people have been exploiting this mentality for decades together, encouraging the use of guns – regardless of the rising number of homicides and suicides every year. According to Gareth Newham, head of governance, crime and justice at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa; America has a gun culture which goes back to the drafting of the Constitution – at which time there was a lot of suspicion about the national government having control over people, leading to decentralization of the policy down to local level; so that the freedom of people at the local level was protected.

The rights to bear arms in the Constitution, according to Mr.Newham; has been defended by people who manufacture and sell guns, and big businesses. More over, Americans love the feeling of having a gun, as it gives them “power” and a “safety blanket”.

I must say, its really sad how the Americans have collectively been brainwashed by the government, media and corporates – to believe that using guns is American and represents freedom and power. Truly, somehow that mindset has to change; otherwise, regardless of stricter gun control laws, we may continue to witness more such shootings so often that they are the norm rather than exception. On this note, the musings of a 27-year old in India(with a truckload of relatives in USA) will  have to be brought to an end; as it is 1 15 am here and thus well beyond the time to sleep. Good night. Amen.




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