Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Judicial sanction to American gun culture   

By Dr. Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao

The latest decision from the Supreme Court of America has supported the Americans right to carry firearms in self-defense, despite the recent many mass shootings killing many innocents, surprised many including its own President Joe Biden. This decision of the highest court in USA which came even after multiple reports confirmed the higher frequency of gun related deaths in USA and over 200 mass shootings happening  in the first 5 months of 2022. The impact of the judicial support of American gun culture is likely to impact Indian families despite huge geographical distance from USA. With more and more young girls and boys are heading for that country in search of better opportunities the threat from the arrogant white peoples’ bullets is real. On the very day the Supreme Court of USA delivered the verdict giving unbridled power to its citizens to have guns, in the name of self-defense, a boy from Telangana, in his early twenties, was shot dead by an unknown assailant.

The Atlantic daily called the verdict as “A win in the Supreme Court for the American right to threaten one another in public”. There are many others in that country who see the Supreme Court sanctioned armed persons are much more dangerous to the society than the organized criminal gangs. They see, armed with the verdict, a raise in white supremacy heroes going on rampage killing blacks and other migrants in the name of concocted self-defense alibi. Any Indian living in USA can be prospective victim and that is the main concern of Indian families. The self-claimed super-efficient American cop may catch the gunner and court may sentence him but the precious life lost will never come back. Such tragedy of loss of life has hit many Indian families in the past through the loss of young lives to the crazy American gun culture.

Supreme Court of USA gave this pro-gun culture verdict as it believed in “Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense”. But the statistics prove that many lives were lost to bullets not because they were fired for self-defense but guns were aimed at the innocent with a view to kill them. This decision came at a time when American Congress is working towards passage of legislation following mass shootings in Texas, New York and California. Joe Biden’s statement that Supreme Court ruling “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all” is a consolation but not a confirmation of the up-coming firm action from his administration. Many, including Americans, are not sure of any Law making applying curbs on the gun wielding culture as the weapon making industry is too influential in the Capitol Hill and can go to any extent  to save its billion dollars profit making industry.

Why the people don’t take American Law makers seriously on making the gun culture curbing laws is because of its past history. It was practice in America to spread positive signals on the forthcoming curbs, whenever a mass shooting occurs, and then quietly forget the issue. The average Americans who occasionally display their displeasure on the administrative failures are quite lukewarm in demonstrating their resolve to end the gun menace. It is obvious that every American believes in his macho image through gun.

The Maryland senator Joseph Tydings statement in summer of 1968 appealing for an effective gun-control laws is worth recalling. “It is just tragic that in all of the Western civilization the United States is the one country with an insane gun policy. It is the only industrialized nation in which the possession of rifles, shotguns and handguns is awfully prevalent among the large number of population. It is the only nation which is so attached to the supposed ‘right’ to bear arms that its laws abet assassins, professional criminals, berserk murderers, and political terrorists at the expense of orderly populations”.

 Despite all this it is the belief of Americans, who are otherwise intelligent, that arms in hand is the greatest protector of their individual rights ad firm safeguard of the democracy. Unfortunately the average American is ignorant of the fact that in other democracies citizen’s rights are better protected, without legalized gun wielding, than in their own country. 

That the Supreme Court is not even prepared to accept even slightest gun curbs is evident from the way it struck down the New York state law restricting who can carry the firearms. The father of American constitution James Madison is often cited by the pro-gun lobby. Madison, the fourth president of USA has said “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation”. That guns were seen as the necessity at that time as one university professor said. “Guns are critical tools for pioneers hunting game and fending of varmints-as well as the genocidal conquest of Native Americans and the control of slaves” was what that academician stated.

What the Americans fail to understand is that they  lost important leaders like the President John F Kennedy and rights activist Martin Luther King Jr in 1968 besides the recorded 2.65 lakh homicides, 3.30 lakh suicides and 1.39lakh gun accidents between 1900 to 1964 said late historian Richard Hofstadter.  In 2019 the death through gun in USA stood as 3.96 deaths per 1 lakh population,  eight times more than the rate in Canada and almost 100 times higher than in United Kingdom. For 100 people in USA the firearms they own are 120.5 and that was the ratio of cell phones in India. 

Media in USA find fault not with the Supreme Court as they think it is not the Court’s fault. They say it is voters and citizens fault as they are tolerating the gun culture that is endangering our fellow Americans instead of insisting that all of us exercise our constitutional right like responsible adults. The anti-gun culture activists feels the need for a change in the heart of the Americans and building a massive movement to eliminate the toxic culture of gun.  

(Author is retired professor and occasional contributor for dailies and magazines. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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