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US and the ‘Cult of the Gun’

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A US federal judge in Virginia had ruled last week (May 11) that young adults (under the age 21) cannot be barred from having a handgun. Banning licenced firearms dealers from selling guns to those under the age of 21 is unconstitutional, the judge had said.

According to the  Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 200 mass shootings across the US so far this year. (A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed. The archive figures include shootings that happen at homes and in public places.) There have been two in Texas early this month – five killed at a home in Cleveland, north of Houston, and eight dead at a shopping mall in Allen, near Dallas.

In each of the last three years, there have been more than 600 mass shootings, almost two a day on average.

Last week, Virginia’s District Judge Robert E Payne had argued in a 71-page filing that federal age regulations in the purchase of handguns violate the Second Amendment. Currently, adults between 18 and 20 can purchase guns through their parents or guardians but are not allowed to buy them from registered dealers themselves in Virginia.

My heart aches when I had read the report. Isn’t the judge a father? Even if he isn’t a father, doesn’t it cross his mind that such ruling will lead to further mindless shooting and loss of innocent lives!

Easy access to firearms has led to senseless shooting and loss of innocent lives over the past three decades. In Las Vegas in 2017, the deadliest attack killed more than 50 people and left 500 wounded.

As many as 48,830 people have died from gun-related injuries in the US during 2021, according to the latest data from  the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That’s nearly an 8% increase from 2020, which was a record-breaking year for firearm deaths.

Every mass shooting in the country has been followed by a familiar political drama: Democrats call for new gun-control measures, such as a ban on assault-style weapons, and point out the US is the only advanced nation in the world where gun violence keeps repeated in such frequency.

Republicans counter that the right to possess firearms is enshrined in the US Constitution and that new gun-control legislation would be counterproductive. Because of the nature of US government, there’re little changes on a national level.

Following the mass shooting in April that had killed six at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, President Joe Biden had said: “We’ve to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart.” But, ‘doing more’ faces a number of serious roadblocks in Congress.

After 20 children and six adults had been killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on December 14, 2012, a majority of the US senators had supported passing legislation requiring expanded background checks for gun purchases. But because of the filibuster – a parliamentary procedure that requires at least 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass most legislation – a simple majority was not enough.

Presidents came and went, but similar tragedies strike again and again, kids get orphaned and cries of heart-broken mothers fill the air.

President Barack Obama though had made sincere efforts to curb the gun violence. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy (December 14, 2012), he had broken down at a press conference on the issue of gun control measures. The President had tried to bypass Congress utilizing his executive powers to outline a series of measures to curb gun violence, through the expansion of background checks. Unfortunately, all his efforts went in vain, thanks to powerful gun lobby and the US constitution.

Although congressional efforts at sweeping gun control were stymied in 2015, gun-control activists made substantive progress in passing new laws at the state level.

In Connecticut, there was overwhelming support for reform from the communities still reeling from the brutality of the Sandy Hook attack. Other Democratic-controlled states – like New York, Maryland and California – have passed their own legislation, closing gun-show loopholes, limiting magazine sizes and prohibiting the sale of certain types of firearms.

A Washington Post data says everyday in the US more than 40 children lose a parent to shooting.

Where are we headed to? Imagine!

A society which is immersed only in corporate-driven consumerism, where only materialism matters and where affluence and luxury are the sine qua non of people’s every day existence, the Virginia judge ruling will surely be greeted with more kudos than disparagement. When will the Americans be able to realize that accruing more and more wealth and enjoying endless other commodities won’t bring happiness in their lives? Well, ‘happiness’ is difficult to pin down, let alone measure.

David G. Myers in his book “The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty” says: “Our becoming much better off over the last four decades has not been accompanied by one iota of increased subjective well-being.”

The US will continue to sacrifice its babies to the altar of guns and this ‘cult of the gun’ will continue unless right-thinking citizens rise to the occasion and take to the streets to bring about changes in the constitution.

Wake up guys! Your ‘single step will make a giant leap’ for your fellow citizens!



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