Discerning American readers of Asia Times will, it’s hoped, help answer two questions that people like me struggle to understand, yet again: 1. Will horrors like the Las Vegas killings change American attitudes to gun ownership? 2. Why this American love/obsession with guns?
As the list of mass shootings in the United States grows, and after this latest murderous rampage by yet another madman with a gun unleashed senseless death and suffering, I thought, “this is when there will be some change in US gun-ownership laws.”
But the optimist in me has given way to the realist. After reading some of the American response to the Mandalay Bay massacre — at least 59 people dead, 525 wounded — the glum realization is that the list of “deadliest US mass shootings” will keep growing. That is until common sense prevails with (a) understanding the individual right to freedom, and (b) the impulsive-action-prone risks of the human mind.
Amid debates about the 226-year-old Second Amendment establishing the US constitutional right to own guns, there are chilling numbers: More lives have been lost to gun-related deaths in the US (intentional or accidental) than all wars the country has fought. Guns kill about 92 people a day in the US, and this (2013) statistic — if accurate — gives the US unavoidable entry into the list of ten most dangerous countries in the world.
US gun ownership highest in the world
American citizens own more 310 million firearms, nearly double the rate per 100 people than in any other country, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey. The latest survey says the US is both the world’s largest importer and exporter of small arms and light weapons.
Yes, I know the familiar argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” But guns enable mad people to easily, instantly kill.
Yet amid the statistics, the arguments, the facts is the issue of personal rights: individual freedom is never absolute. Do American schools have in their syllabus British journalist/author A.G. Gardiner’s must-read essay On the Rule of the Road? in which he argues how in order to preserve the liberties of all, the liberties of everyone have to be curtailed. I have the right to walk anywhere I want, but not the right to hold up traffic walking in the middle of the road, like the lady from Petrograd in Gardiner’s essay.
Missed or forgotten in gun debates is the impulsive nature of the human mind, and how easily a gun can multiply the lethal consequences of sudden rage or momentary madness.Liberty is not a personal affair only, wrote Gardiner, but a social contract.
How much is everyone’s freedom — the right to live in safety — compromised by the indiscriminate individual right to own weapons that can snuff out human lives with the twitch of a finger?
Likewise, how much is everyone’s freedom — the right to live in safety — compromised by the indiscriminate individual right to own weapons that can snuff out human lives with the twitch of a finger?
How often have we heard someone say irritably, “I feel like killing him.” It’s usually a passing thought ending with a wry laugh. But if there is real mind-blanking fury, the risk of impulsive action multiplies. And if the means are readily available that narrows the gap between thoughts of murderous rage and murderous action.
The scary reality is that Stephen Paddock had no prior record of crime or insanity. Something snapped, and his demented mind had the ready means to kill and wound hundreds of people in a few minutes.
This is apart from gun accidents like the two-year-old toddler shooting dead his mother, or children fatally injured handling guns.
A fatal accident, an impulsive act, a momentary lapse of reason are real concerns for the individual gun owner, many of whom claim to be “responsible” gun owners. But how does a constitutional right carry any weight against gun death because of individual madness, a drunken rage, or an accident — to anyone, anytime?
My condolences to the grieving families and friends — wonderful people whose lives were snuffed out.
The Second Amendment right to bear arms is rooted in the hard-earned wisdom (paid for in blood) that no government is to be trusted in full or forever.
There is a distinct possibility that some power-hungry rogue elements in the US government and the Establishment have been scheming to pave the way for repealing the Second Amendment of the US Constitution with this type of mass shootings.
Remember the so-called "Patriot Act" passed shortly after the now well-established 9-11 false flag operation? The Act is in blatant violation of the US Constitution, and yet it passed. Why? Fear among the general public induced by the false flag attack.
For the sake of argument, if this case was indeed the result of a psychopath gone mad, the solution doesn’t lie in banning gun ownership of general public.
I for one am not convinced this is a case of psychopath gone mad.
If Shawn Napper is the typical American freedom-loving, Second Amendment defender, good luck to the USA!! Happy hunting for anyone seriously nutty, suicidal, or wanting to terrorise and kill others! And another 100 years of condolences to future victims. Your country thinks freedom to shoot is more important than your freedom not to be shot at! President Donald Trump has already tweeted, just a day after the shooting, that he is so proud of the USA. We can only conclude that he is proud of the great freedom of having guns! Happy killings to the USA. The rest of the world is awed by your 300+ million guns that are privately owned!
Allow me, Mr. Murthy, to relate an observation to you. Years ago when I was a high school youth here in the U.S., most of my male classmates had hunting rifles. I also had a hunting rifle. We used to carry them in our cars and pickup trucks that we drove to school. Back then, no one attacked schools, no one attacked large groups of people attending concerts. Nor did anyone attack a crowded night club with a gun. My point is this. Guns have been around in American culture for a long time. The guns have not changed. They are still firearms, guns, whatever one wishes to call them. What has changed is our society and culture. Until these base issues of division and hatred are dealt with, we will continue to see violence. Until those who promote division and hatred are held responsible for their actions by the legal system, we will continue to see violence. And until organizations such as Antifa and other hate groups are brought to justice, we will continue to see violence. Until gangs and gang warfare can be stopped and brought to justice, violence will continue. Guns have not changed. Society and culture have changed, brought on by permissiveness and tolerance of behavior that should not be tolerated in any shape or form.
Mass killings isn’t a gun toting exclusive. Consider vehicles in the hands of killers, be they politically motivated…or not. Improvised explosive divises use readily available fertilizers, or gasoline. Nuclear contaminants are everywhere, and accessible to the murderously inclined. With a little imagination, one can recognize civil wars, forced migrations, disease, and simple starvation, to be realy big killers. It is a dangerous world, and making gun ownership the patsy of routine violence only distracts from other, more lethal instruments, of killers, and killings.
Two nutty ideas are expressed here:
1. 9/11 was a false flag operation. You need to put your tin foil hat back on and quit listening to Alex Jones.
2. The second amendment is about government tyranny. Yes, that is what the framers of the constitution intended. But Scalia and SCOTUS made clear it is NOT about that, but is instead about self-defense in general, which is why it is okay to prevent citizens from owning atomic bombs but not okay to prevent them from owning handguns.
Everyone has a right to an opinion. Even when it’s wrong.
Shuttles between Mumbai and the Himalayas.
Probably doesn’t spend much time in the States with that kind of itinerary.
Should be focusing on India’s nonexistent social contract, rather than lecturing Yanks on theirs.
The reason why I wrote this article – as mentioned in the opening paragraph – was to get some insights from our American readers to explain why people think their neighborhood or country becomes safer by civilians owning weapons that can wreak death and devastation in minutes. And to hope that whatever needs to be done is done to stop such loss of lives, in the US or anywhere in the world.
Thank you to those who generously gave their time to offer their understanding.
I am US citizen living throughout my adult life. Mr Klopman, to you, I have a question why did you attack the writer? He expressed his legitimate opinion. Even if the 2nd amendment is obeyed, still there should be some control over gun. For hunting or pleasure one might keep a gun but not the assult rifle. In Massachusetts, where I live, the state has some restrictions. Further, guns are sold even in Walmart down in the deep southern states where poverty and hunger is much parallel to any villages of the Asian nations except China. Besides, 2nd amendment allows gun for the militia which is prohibited according to federal law. In the past colonial era, it was useful but now after two centuries of independence. It definitely deserves some amendment when people are dying like in epidemic. Human lives have the highest values. Think about it.
I can see the possibility of minimal changes in the availability of high-power firearms, but fundamentally Americans will always have guns deadly enough for one man to kill several in minutes.
100 dead and a few hundred injured will not be salient in the minds of millions of Americans for very long.
Freedom in the US has been a part of the American religiosity. Much of US actions, domestic and foreign, are rooted in this part of the American religiosity.
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