Type ‘Walmart’ and ‘guns’ into Google and the above is what appears. “Save money. Live better.” But do we really live better? With the two devastating massacres in the U.S. last year, the blatant lack of gun control has received major criticism. Supporters of gun control proclaim that it is because of the easy availability of firearms that 26 people were murdered in Newtown while 12 people suffered the same fate in Colorado. However, gun control enthusiasts insist that prohibition of any sort will infringe on the “peoples’ right to keep and bear arms.”
This right refers to the Second Amendment, which was officially recorded in 1791, years before the Industrial Revolution. Ratifiers of the Second Amendment surely did not anticipate the mass production of firearms that we witness today. Moreover, this legislation was created at a time before an organized police force came into existence in the United States. Today, the government em- ploys about 800,000 police officers. So why is it necessary to grant access to firearms to the public? The argument that guns are essential for one’s personal protection is out- dated in today’s context.
If the U.S. is truly considered one of the more developed countries, why then does it cling to laws nearly 4 centuries old? The amendment is not only outdated but also vague. By failing to define what it means by ‘firearms’ the some argue the amendment implies that roaming around the street with even bazookas and machine guns is acceptable.
Recent events have forced President Obama to acknowledge the conflict with this amendment. He has promised to impose immediate restrictions on the sales of military-style semi-automatic firearms and the size of ammunition magazines. Obama has also vowed to improve the system for background checks, ensuring that those inflicted with mental illnesses and those with a history of crime do not have access to such weapons.
Although these measures may not be nearly enough to completely solve the problem, they are a good start. Out of 12,664 murders in the US last year; 8,583 were caused by firearms. The first step to reducing these numbers is to control the sales and purchase of firearms. The National Rifle Association, on the other hand, believes that the best way to protect the public from assault is to hand them the weapons instead.
If everyone fought fire with fire, the whole world would be reduced to nothing more than mere ashes. What do we do then?
By Marika Mascarenhas
Picture by Alia Hijaab