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Misguided Zeal

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Ten persons were killed in a mass shooting that took place in a Colorado supermarket in the United States on Monday. It was the second such incident in a week, with 8 being killed in attacks on spas in Atlanta. These were carried out by lone gunmen, with the motives not having become clear, as yet. In the Atlanta shooting, the killer claimed he did it because the spas were a temptation that encouraged his sex-addiction. Basically, if access is easy to guns, including assault rifles, just about any cockamamie reason is good enough to trigger such tragedies. According to a compilation of such acts, as many as 107 mass indiscriminate shootings have taken place in the three months of 2021 in the US, leading to 112 deaths and many wounded.

This is just a slice of the numerous such incidents that have taken place in that country over the years. Certain events, such as the Columbine school shooting (just one of several) remain etched in people’s memories. And, yet, such tragedies have not been able to persuade the Americans into taking the essential remedy of curbing the free sale of arms. The excuse offered is that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution through the first amendment, but this amounts to a gross perversion of the spirit behind that law. This idolisation of a man-made principle is no different from the radical adherence to ‘divine’ diktats that motivate religious fanatics. It is interesting to note that this is the very same United States that never fails to advise other nations on how to deal with human rights abuses. Even the sufferings of innocent school children have not been able to shake the fanaticism of organisations like the NRA.

While Republican Presidents have traditionally pandered to the gun-lobby, even Democrats who come to power on the promise of gun control soon lose their commitment to the cause. There are, of course, business reasons behind the façade of principles – gun manufacturers fund the careers of a large number of politicians. (In fact, weapons manufacturers keep the fires of conflicts stoked around the world so that they do not run out of customers. The US-Russia-China rivalry is based largely upon keeping their customers for planes, tanks, missiles, etc., under their control.)

Sadly, the solution lies not so much on ending gun ownership, but in much better regulation. Canada to the north has a large number of privately owned guns, but mass shootings there are rare. Even this, sadly, is unacceptable to the people. Ironically, in a highly divided society in racial terms, the fascination for guns runs across all such barriers. A solution does not seem likely anytime soon and innocent lives will continue to be lost.