A Mini Holocaust!


By Saeed Qureshi

The tragic death of 26 fellow Americans including 20 children between the ages of 6-7 is an unspeakable tragedy. It is a mini holocaust that would haunt the parents and relations of the victims, no one knows how long. The 20 year old killer Adam Lanza first killed his 52 year old mother before gunning down the children in two first-grade classrooms, of Sandy Hook elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown Connecticut.

The second gruesome massacre in educational institutions is known as the Virginia Tech massacre in which 32 people were killed and 17 wounded in two separate attacks. It took place on April 16, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States. The shooters name was Seung-Hui Cho who also killed himself. In the recent past several shooting incidents took place in the shopping malls and public places.

On July 20, 2012, one such horrific mass shooting occurred inside the Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The perpetrator James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

Now all these ghastly incidents of carnage bring home the absolute urgency of curbing or controlling the firearms that are so abundantly and ubiquitously available in the United States. Anyone can walk into a gun store and buy at will, the weapons ranging from ordinary revolvers to deadly assault weapons.

The fire-arms are purchased by the people for a variety of reasons. Fist it is the psyche of possessing arms that has almost become a fashion or propensity with the people with financial ability to buy the costliest weapons. Keeping assault weapons are also deemed to be status symbols.

Secondly there is running paranoid of self protection against the invisible or fantasy intruders at the properties. Thirdly there are hunters that prey upon the animals like deer, antelopes, alligators bears, birds etc, for the sake of fun or making money. There are gun shows where the weapon crazy people throng and buy all kind of weapons whose lethal capacity goes beyond the protections against burglars or trespassers.

It has been observed that not a fraction of all these deadly weapons are used for the sake of protection of the inmates of a household or for driving away the unwanted intruders. There have a been negligible number of incidents in which a courageous house owner or ranch keeper used the gun to kill a shady character or to scare away the suspect poaching the property.

On the contrary what happens is that the mentally deranged, psychopaths, trigger-happy shooters, the disgruntled individuals and the avengers use such weapons for manslaughter and pogroms of the people. As such the possession of assault and ordinary weapons seem to have become counter-productive and least used for the purpose these are acquired.

The second amendment in the American constitution permits the citizens to bear arms. This caveat as we all witness is violated for wrongful and insidious objectives. The time when this amendment was passed was socially unstable and dangerous. This amendment would have served the purpose during those times when people felt insecure and needed to defend themselves from the enemies or the soldiers who would forcibly occupy the priorities or there were dangerous predators hovering around.

In those fearsome times, there was a genuine need for the citizens to protect themselves as the law and order institutions were still in the making and not very effective. The responsibility to ward off the attackers or intruders, thieves and burglars devolved on the individuals mostly. Moreover, the permission to bear arms was part of a package of civil liberties by overlooking the possibility that these could become more deadly and destructive.

Therefore there is dire need to bring about necessary amendment in the constitution to restrict buying of arms only by those who can keep them in safe custody. The laws pertaining to the licensing and purchase of weapons must be absolutely stringent and hard so that only the genuine people can have them. There is also an urgent need to maintain the names and particulars of the buyers with conditions that no one else not even by their family members could have access to these.

The neighborhood patrols by the vigilantes, watchdogs and police should be enhanced so that the people feel less threatened and have less desire or necessity to keep the guns in the house to meet any untoward eventuality. Rather facing themselves with a deadly weapons they should be able to call the police to deal with any dangerous situation.

The gun shows should be banned or curtailed. These should be held under strict watch of the law enforcement agencies and records should be meticulously maintained as to who is buying and what kind of weapons was being traded. The uninhibited trade of dangerous weapons at such shows should be completely abolished.

The underlying objective of a constitutional amendment with regard to the buying or possessing of arms should to put to stop these from going into the wrong hands. It should be made mandatory for the guns to be used only by the license holder and no one else. Moreover, the number of weapons should be fixed according to the nature of ones status. For a private individual it could be single low caliber weapon and for official duties it could be more. The modelities of such restrictions or permissions can be worked out by the specialists and experts.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

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