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Mass Shootings Are No Longer Isolated Incidents

There was this recent mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, during a parade celebrating the Independence Day of America on the Fourth of July. This was close on the heels of the brutal mass shootings in the Uvalde, Texas school and in the Buffalo supermarket. How many more such incidents do we need before America wakes up from its euphoria of American exceptionalism and its fixation with the anachronistic Second Amendment, which was written in the days when America was still a Frontier Society? 

High Incidence of Gun Violence

It is well past time the country came to grips with the real problem. Americans are reluctant to accept that it is guns that kill people. No other country with comparable cultural values, aims and aspirations – countries in Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Japan – display such a high incidence of gun violence.

(Source: healthdata.org)

And no country tries to deflect the issue citing mental instability, underage or criminal disposition, and conveniently skirt the real culprit – the easy availability of guns in the country. There are no half-assed solutions to waste time on. Guns have to go – no more ifs and buts; no more concessions and apologies. 

Don’t Divert Attention to Mental Health

We have to come out of the mist of American exceptionalism and come to grips with the stark reality that that it is the guns that kill the people. That is the one common denominator – not drugs, not deranged individuals, not some underage individual getting hold of one. We have to go all out after the legislators – of both parties – and cajole them or whatever necessary into enacting extreme measures for gun control.  

Till we are convinced and put up a concerted effort and not mere window dressing, all hitherto piecemeal efforts will come to naught. We should confront head on anyone who wants to bring up the Second Amendment as a convenient escape route. All legislations, including the Second Amendment were written addressing a specific need – for a specific time and place. We have to put forward convincingly that the Amendment is not sacrosanct, and serious modifications are required to fit the times.

(Source: bbc.com)

Task Is Difficult But Not Impossible

The efforts will not be easy. But I still hold out hope. And in this, I am reminded of the historic efforts to abolish slavery or the women’s right to vote. Also, the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps also the way smoking has essentially vanished from the scene. In all these cases, deeply entrenched values were challenged, and the changes did not come easy. We now need such monumental efforts, not just nibbling at the fringes. Guns are way more precarious. 

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Partha Sircar

Partha Sircar is a retired Civil Engineer, currently residing in Concord, California. He has a BE in Civil Engineering from Bengal Engineering College in Shibpur, India, and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering...