In the wake of the Orlando Massacre, there’s an urgent need to address the obsession that Americans have with guns. Omar Mateen, the shooter, carried a legally purchased AR-15-style assault rifle even though he was on the terror watch list. If drug abusers, people with mental illnesses, convicted felons and illegal immigrants are prohibited from buying guns, then why are terror suspects not?
The massacre has left the likes of Donald Trump in sweat. Amidst the pressure, he has decided to discuss with the NRA to refuse permission of buying arms to those on the terror watch list and the no-fly list.
Imagine that! Donald Trump speaking against guns… That’s like Pahlaj Nihlani speaking against censoring. Though it really is ironic: Trump talking sense!
But just how much do Americans love their guns? Let’s take a look:
Gun ownership in the United states
About one-third of the households in America possess guns – which is a frightening figure indeed. The ownership is concentrated among senior adults, rural residents, and especially by Southern Americans.
Quite obviously, America leads the rest of the world in terms of gun ownership. But as you can see in the following figures, its contribution to the total gun population is flabbergasting.
Refusal to discard guns despite numerous deaths
To those outside the USA, it would be logical that lesser number of guns would lead to lesser number of deaths. But many Americans believe the complete opposite. For example, people (including the great Donald Trump) have said that the Orlando shooting would not have occurred if the victims in the night club had a gun to protect themselves. Is it just me or does handing guns to drunk and drugged people sound like a really bad idea?
The fact of the matter is that America witnesses more gun deaths than any other country and that too by quite a distance. But some ‘genius’ Americans are still firm in their idea that more guns is the solution to deaths DUE to guns.
Ridiculous number of retail gun stores
Apparently, it’s easier to get your hands on a gun than on your daily list of groceries. Not only that, there are more gun stores in America than coffee shops or even prominent food joints.
This just shows how plagued Americans are with guns. How comfortable they are with homicidal weapons is baffling indeed.
A comparison between the USA and the UK
There is a stark contrast between the gun culture of the two. The tragedy of Dunblane (a Scottish town) massacre in 1996 where 16 children were killed resulted in the implementation of some of the sturdiest anti-gun laws in the world. Following the massacre, the government quickly banned ownership of guns in mainland Britain.
If the Dunblane massacre was a catalyst of change in the UK gun laws, then the Orlando massacre is enough of a sign that the USA needs much stricter anti-gun laws too.
Other than the laws, another reason for the difference in the cultures is the role of the guns in everyday life. Britishers are much more conservative in their use of guns as means of self-defence. They, like the rest of the world, only use them where safety is needed and not just because they feel their neighbours are a little weird.
Everyday we come across some or the other case when one or more of the (too) many American guns are fired fatally. While many of these deaths get buried under the rock, some may be more noticeable under the radar. For example: British MP Jo Cox was shot dead on 16th June 2016 ostensibly for her strong opinion on the EU referendum campaign.
The freedom of expression in the western countries is definitely a positive element. And as a diverse race, people may or may not agree with your point of view. However, if someone with a gun in their hand over-reacts to something they didn’t like about you… God save your soul.
America needs massive changes in its gun culture if it’s ever to be considered safe. If all the other countries ever start imitate its love for guns, the result could be cataclysmic.
Here is another reason why an Indian should care about the gun culture in America:
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.