THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS
In 2015, there were 372 mass shootings in the United States of America. That’s a big number, and yet, it doesn’t seem to have brought about a sense of realization amongst most Americans.
In UK in 1996, a man named Thomas Hamilton shot up an elementary school and killed 16 5-year olds and their teacher who tried protecting them. This shocked the nation into questioning themselves as to how a man with the records that Hamilton held (he had been previously ostracized for his suspicious behavior with young boys during his time as a Scout leader, and had a history of mental illness as well), had been allowed access to the gun in the first place. This led to some major reforms in their Gun policy.
On the other hand, in 1990, two teenagers (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold) illegally obtained a handful of rifles and shot up their high school (the famous Columbine High School Massacre), killing thirteen students and a teacher, and then themselves. Since then, US has seen 141 mass shootings.
In recent times, we have read gory details of senseless gun violence in the country. From the killing of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary, to the shooting up of the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, easy access to guns without thorough background checks has been proven to have dire consequences.
A recent experiment was conducted in the country, where a fourteen year old was asked to buy alcohol. He was obviously denied without even a second thought. However, when he went on to attempt to buy a rifle, he was given one, no questions asked. The fact that he was only fourteen was ignored, no background checks were conducted, and he was allowed to walk home with a rifle in a span of fifteen minutes. This is how easy it is to access guns in the country, especially for those who should not be allowed to have them in the first place. Clearly, buying equipment which could potentially harm people and even take lives was easier to get access to, than liquid which would intoxicate the user’s mind just for a few hours.
Time and again, attempts to reform this scenario have been made, but are met with rebukes and a feeling that it is an attempt to “take away their guns”. No such attempt has ever been made, and can never be made. Guns can never be taken away from law abiding citizens. All that needs to be brought about is a change in the easy process of purchase of guns. In a country that has banned “Kinder Eggs”, this shouldn’t seem to be a problem. But it is.
For many, the right to bear arms is the very essence of being an American. However, the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right to own guns. Background and safety checks will prevent guns from “falling into the wrong hands”, and reduce accidental gun deaths by massive numbers.
The rate at which gun deaths are increasing in America is alarming and appalling. Easy gun access to those who should never be around firearms is giving way to hate crimes and attacks. The fact that we have these many examples to quote is enough warning and a signal for America to take a small pause and re-evaluate the current scenario and the deep, deep hole they’re digging for themselves.
- By Divya Sethu