IT’S happening today with increasing frequency in America. Discussions on the second amendment, the right to bear arms, and the resulting widespread gun ownership and senseless homicides, are current. Guns have long been a weapon of choice in all sorts of nefarious activities in America. No place on earth compares to the mighty USA in gun ownership and use. Debate on gun control heightens as elections for a new president grab national attention. The Republican Party dutifully mouths the slogan of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) that, ‘guns don’t kill people; people do.’
Remarkably, most politicians in the U.S in both the Senate and the Congress seem fearful of the NRA, perhaps the most heavily funded and therefore most influential and uncompromising lobby in Washington D.C. Gun homicides continue unabated and like the NRA, U.S politicians hide behind the second amendment as cowards often do, in the face of powerful foes.
In the growing atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust, a senior politician from the west coast recently offered a sensible suggestion, which bears repetition. ‘Registration of all mentally ill persons in a central bank and compulsory background checks on all applicants for the purchase of a gun.’ But even such a guarded suggestion has been studiously avoided by cowardly politicians, as if it carried hidden, the malignant HIV virus.
The love affair with guns in America is appreciated, if not fully understood, by observers who understand how the west was won. The central instrument of conquest was the gun. It killed off the native Indians and later, conquered a large swath of the world seizing other peoples’ lands. The railway later consolidated the fields of stained Indian blood in the ruthless march towards the Pacific coast. Guns also played a central enabling role in the slave trade and became an instrument of intimidation and oppression in the new world of the African. The gun was therefore an instrument of oppression long before its users discovered the power of mind control.
The second amendment debate also takes front and centre stage following the senseless murders of innocent lives, especially that of the young. Of course the gun lobby soon kicks into action repeating the ‘guns don’t kill people; people do,’ slogan and deceitful nonsense. It is remarkable the lack of a strong rebuttal by those who know better. Too often, the only voices raised for sensible gun laws are those of the families of victims – and a minority of friends and politicians who are unafraid of the NRA. Very few Americans bother to ask whether homicides would be as high if there were fewer guns in private hands.
A discussion on gun violence often points to the agenda of elected politicians and officials who are best able to amend the U.S constitution. But the NRA stands resolutely in the way of any tampering with the second amendment. It knows that no politician can win elections in the U.S without money – loads of it. And the NRA is loaded. Change can only come with changes in the law governing campaign financing and when the electorate begins to vote for advocates of gun control. The cynically posit that, only the wilful killing of three or four politicians by a deranged gun man, God forbid, will get legislatures to act on sensible gun laws. In the meantime, the NRA retains a disproportionate influence over the outcomes of elections in America.
The father of a young female TV news reporter, who was recently cut down with her TV cameraman colleague, has sworn to dedicate his life to gun control. It remains an interesting dilemma that, that same father has publicly announced his decision to purchase a gun for self protection. Someone should inform this grieving man that the abundance of evidence points out that, people who own guns are more likely to die from gunshot wounds, than not.
The story of this hurting father reminds one of binge drinkers who must have a drink first thing in the morning to help get over their hangover. In the Caribbean, persons who once advocated medicating a dog’s bite with the animal’s fur will see the logic in that man’s action – and a clear victory for the NRA.
Regardless of pros and cons of the debate, the fact remains that money is at the core of the political industry in America. The business of America is first and foremost business; which means making money, hopefully leading to a good life and offering the wealthy a wider choice of pursuits – and happiness. Gun ownership is believed, wrongly, to protect businesses and enhance happiness for US citizens. But is that really so?
One wonders whether America’s love affair with guns and the historical reasons the weapon is so deeply embedded in American culture is of any concern to foreigners wishing to call America home. One also wonders whether in the rush to own a piece of the economic pie the average American bothers to think of the threat which guns pose, in the hands of the mentally challenged and criminal elements. It would also be interesting to discover the differences, if any, between the use of guns in America for legal purposes, and the guns used by the illegal drug industry for the protection of its illicit trade and those at its head.
At these perilous times America (and her friends) need to keep constantly before them the reasons for the second amendment to the U.S constitution, the circumstances which gave rise to the second amendment matter. But had the men who cobbled the U.S constitution and its several amendments been alive today, would they have worded their renowned document in the exact same way. In other words in what ways would modern technology, travel and the increasing reach of the law dictate what goes into a constitution for these united states.
Clearly, had the founding fathers been alive today, their wish for freedom and their desire to give wings and strength to a new united America would surely mean a stronger military. But would it also permit every Tom, Dick and Harry to own a gun? Would the second amendment be similarly worded by these founding fathers? Common sense seems to dictate the answer to these and other gun control questions.
May the debate on gun control and the second amendment to the U.S constitution continue? May it do so in a sensible and less emotionally charged atmosphere? May the voice of its voiceless children; its young innocent lives, and that of its law abiding citizens win, in the end.