Gun Control: Aftermath of Colorado shootings, Sikh Temple Killing in Wisconsin & Jared Loughner,Discerning the Debate
Aug 09, 2012 12:07 PM EDT
In the past few weeks, America has witnessed two fatal shootings, the fact that both massacres were carried out with the same type of weapons, procured by the alleged killers through legal means has brought the debate of gun control to the forefront of public discourse.
On July 20, James Egan Holmes opened fire at a Colorado movie theatre in Aurora, killing 12 and injuring 59 others. Oddly enough, the Aurora movie theatre was only 30 minutes away from the Colorado Columbine School, whose 1999 shootout still haunts the country. As the nation was grappling with the fatal tragedy, on August 5, Wade Michael Page opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Tree, Wisconsin, killing six people and critically injuring three others, after which he committed suicide. And then only days later, Jared Loughner plead guilty to last January's Tucson shooting, which claimed the lives of six, including congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
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These tragic events which seemed to have taken place almost consecutively have rekindled the debate on America's gun-laws. The argument is a tricky one, with one side arguing for a need to curb the easy availability of procuring weapons and the other defending our constitutional right to bear arms and exercise self-protection.
According to a Reuters report, among the 875 million licit firearms in the world, American civilians possess 270 million, making the country the most heavily armed society in the world. Time Magazine points out that rate of citizens owning guns in the US is 70 percent higher than the country (Yemen) with second highest rate.
David Brooks, of Time Magazine, says that the problem is that of psychology not sociology.
On the matter, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tells CNN News, "I can tell you that I don't think there's any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have."
The group of people calling for stricter gun laws argues that it is lax regulations which make guns easily accessible to mentally disturbed people like Holmes or radical fundamentalists like Page. This party believes that the nation is in need of stringent laws that make the procurement of weapons cumbersome in order to prevent such incidences.
In the recent shootings, both Page and Holmes carried out the shootings with legally purchased assault rifles, and were later found to possess additional weapons and ammunitions. Both Wisconsin and Colorado have relatively permissive gun-law policies. According to the Colorado State Law local governments are prohibited from making any regulations that would curb any gun-procuring laws.
Heather Morton of the National Conference of State Legislatures tells the NY Times that Colorado has relatively lax gun-control rules, "if a person complies with all of the requirements, then the state must issue a concealed weapons permit."
The staunch believers in the right to bear arms, argue that weapons can also be the means of protection. Often when a shooting such as Columbine or Virginia Tech or any other is cited, gun-activists point out if one of the victims had a gun at the time, he/she could counter the attacker and defend themselves by the same means the crime is being perpetrated.
Gun activist also enjoy the privilege of the constitution which grants every citizen the right to bear arms. Even president Obama who spoke on the subject of gun-control, stressed on his belief in the constitutional right to bear arms, but also said that there is need for stricter background checks in order to prevent mentally deranged and criminals from procuring weapons.
The debate on gun-control, as many politicians realize tends to lead to a dead end, in large part because pro-gun lobbyist group -National Rifle Association has incredible influence in Washington. And although, events such as the Dark Knight massacre or Sikh temple shooting rekindle the debate with invigorated strength, the debate can be expected to persist for the next few weeks, but with unlikely results of altering the existing regulations.
As Jonanthan Mann of CNN would said, "America stands alone in its historic and cultural attachment to guns. America stands armed."