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USA: A Country of Guns
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Dr Ashwani Mahajan | Date:19 Jul , 2016 0 Comments
Dr Ashwani Mahajan
is Associate Professor, PGDAV College, University of Delhi.

Once again the ugly face of terrorism has been exposed before the world, with recent mass killing of 49 people in Orlando City of USA. Over the years, many incidents have come to fore where not only the terrorists, but even crazy young men often had carried out mass killings. However, incidents of mass violence make the headlines of newspapers, reports of murders that occur every day, go unnoticed. According to a rough estimate, 87 murders take place daily in the United States. It is said that staying in Chicago, USA is much riskier than to go to war in Afghanistan. The recent massacre in the United States has not only shaken USA, but the whole world.

A Country of Guns

In United States perhaps it’s most easy to buy a gun. Guns are so easily available, and can be purchased most easily like vegetables, in thousands of stores, without much hassle. In addition, people often buy guns from relatives and friends. To buy a gun, unlike India, a person need not possess a license in USA. One has to only give some information about one self, by filling up a form. Within minutes of the filling up of the information, verification is done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and gun reaches into the hands of the buyer.

According to the website of the FBI, in the last one decade, enquiry was sought in 10 crore cases and only 7 lakh people were found ineligible to purchase a gun, that is, less than one percent of the total. We can understand that, almost every citizen of USA is eligible to have a gun. With a spurt in murders in the last few years, it s being said that ease of having a gun is causing ease of murders and illegal activities.

Though, it is no good to comment on the cultural traits of citizens of other nations, however, the quantum in which murders are taking place, forces us to think about insensitivity and intolerance in Americans. In such circumstances, ease in possessing a gun makes it easy to murder others. It is notable that, people of all age groups are engaged in this act of murders, including minors.

Gun Lobby
Though, there is an old history of murders using guns, in recent times, this tendency has accelerated. Demand for restricting guns, has been there for long time, and many political leaders have been trying to make gun laws stricter. However, they have been facing numerous problems in their endeavor to enact strict laws. And behind this, there is strong gun lobby.

Since 1871, there has been a strong organisation, called National Rifle Association in USA; which has been directly engaged in political lobbying for weak gun laws, since 1934. Though, there are nearly 50 lakh members of NRA, who contribute for the association, major chunk of financing of NRA comes from gun manufacturing companies. For obvious reasons, this organisation makes every possible effort to kill any effort to make any strict law against possession of guns. We can gauge the influence of this gun lobby by the fact that NRA received a donation of nearly $350 million last year. Using its strong financial muscles, this organisation funds Senate members, who in turn make all possible attempts to defeat efforts to curb guns in USA.

Gun Bill

Though, Republicans themselves generally try to keep status quo on gun laws, recently under pressure from recent Orlando massacre, has brought a bill, according to which Department of Justice will have three days time for enquiry. It is notable that though enquiry was made at least twice, about terrorist involved in Orlando violence, even then he was able to fetch gun. Therefore, supporters of the bill say that with this bill becoming a law, it would become difficult for people linked with terror to possess guns.

On the other hand Democrats don’t favour this bill and they instead want that guns should be denied to people doubtful of terror links and psychological problems. Because of this lack of unanimity about the proposed changes in the gun law, gun law couldn’t be enacted in June 2016 also. Debate is on about whether the government should have the right to deny guns to those with doubt of having terror links or psychological problems or law department has 3 days time to say yes or no to the permission and onus of denial be on the government.

NRA is also opposing to sharing of data about people with psychological problems, citing this to be an attack on privacy.

President Obama is also facing a lot of criticism from the gun lobby for issuing some administrative orders, imposing restrictions on purchase of guns. Therefore, whether it’s an issue of making a stricter gun law or taking any administrative action to restrict guns, gun lobby always tries to create hurdles. Sometimes in the name of right to possess guns or on the pretext of privacy, this lobby tries to defeat efforts to curb guns, by soliciting support of senators; or even by legal fights. A senator Bill Nelson who has been vehemently favouring Gun Bill in the Senate, in June 2016, murmured after the bill was defeated, “What am I going to tell 49 grieving families?; I am going to tell them that NRA won again.”

Though, this is not first case of giving priority to corporate interests to the humanity; we are forced to think that for them profit is their sole objective, even if it is at the cost of lives of innocent people.


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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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