While the locations, faces and the numbers change, the weapon remains the same – a gun. With the recent mass shooting at a South California bar which left 12 dead, the debate over gun control has once again come to the fore.
Mass shootings in USA
While mass shootings have become the norm in the United States Of America, the number of victims in absolute terms is harrowing. While little study has been done to quantify the overall damages of mass-shootings in the US, CNN, by using their own criteria for listing such shootings has found out that there have been 288 school shootings in the USA since 2009 where at least one person was killed. This number is 57 times higher than six other G7 countries in the world, combined. Even as mass shootings in the US get deadlier, the number of victims still represent a small fraction of those who are killed as a result of firearm assault as BBC reported that in 2016 alone, a staggering 11,000 people have died as a result of manslaughter involving a firearm.
More conventionally, mass shootings since 2013 have been defined as cases of attacks involving three or more victims. Going by this, the number of mass shootings may appear fewer, however, the problem – threat involving firearms – continue to persist unabated.
While gun control activists and politicians have been advocating stricter gun laws for the country, at the federal level, the situation is dismal. Meanwhile, the NRA (National Rifle Association of America), an organisation which works for gun rights has been challenging the gun control activists on various grounds, mainly on its advocacy of the 2nd Amendment which is enshrined in the constitution. It says, “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”.
NRA, which has been vilified for its staunch lobbying of gun rights has once again come under the radar for a controversial tweet which prompted doctors and trauma surgeons in the USA to tweet with #ThisIsOurLane.
NRA tweets and doctors respond
Just a day before the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar in southern California, USA’s powerful pro-gun organisation, NRA tweeted an editorial saying, “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”
“Everyone has hobbies. Some doctors’ collective hobby is opining on firearms policy,” reads the first sentence of the editorial which suggests that anti-gun rights doctors should not debate on gun rights. This tweet caught the attention of many doctors who deal with the horrors of gun-violence, first hand on a routine basis. Doctors’ response to NRA’s tweet was prompt and personal.
With heart-wrenching stories, doctors also posted pictures of blood splattered clothes and trauma centres.
Doctor Morris told BBC, “We are anti-violence. Violence is the real problem; guns are simply a vector. What we hope for is the opportunity to study the problem and apply the sound scientific methodology to making things better.”
There were hundreds of other tweets which showed how real the threat and the subsequent trauma is. The USA is the world’s topmost gun-owning country and only next to it is Yemen, a nation which is torn by civil wars.
NRA, most powerful
Reportedly, US public opinion on banning handguns has changed drastically over the last half a century and now, a significant majority opposes banning handguns. What facilitates such a change is NRA’s lobbying. According to a BBC article, the NRA spends about $3 million (Rs 21,77,85,000) per year to influence gun policy in the country.
Their armour is most primarily the abovementioned 2nd Amendment and the NRA argues against all forms of gun controls and advocates that guns make the country safer. It also supports legislation that expands gun rights such as “open-carry” laws. What further makes the NRA so powerful is its political affiliations and the bigwigs who are members of it.
Politicians also have a big role to play in the situation, along with lawmakers. Present US President Donald Trump’s views on gun laws have changed over the years. Reportedly, while in the 1990s and early 2000s, Trump expressed support for a ban on assault weapons, his views have since changed. After securing the endorsement of NRA in May 2016, right before the US elections that year, Trump’s opinions seem to echo those of NRA’s, reports BBC. On several occasions too, Trump has taken a jibe at then Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her views on staunch gun control.
The Logical Indian Take
Gun advocates in the USA base their arguments on an amendment which was formulated in 1791. While the grounds for the enactment is itself disputed till date, it made up for a valid argument back in the day when the citizens of the newly independent country had to protect themselves against British imperialist forces. However, in the modern world, countless innocent lives have been lost over the years because of the existence of the law which gives US citizens the right to own firearms.
Much like the legalisation of marijuana, different US states have enacted different laws which either empowers pro-guns groups or limit its use. However, changes are yet to be made on a federal level. The onus now lies upon the Congress (US’s legislative branch) to enact laws that restrict usage of firearms and stop such killings on a mass level. Heartfelt prayers can only do so much, it’s time people realise the drastic consequences of their decisions.
Also Read: [Read/Watch] Barack Obama’s New Proposals To End Gun Violence Display Both Courage & Recklessness