The Wild Wild West: “Gun Politics” in the United States

17 Feb

By Vincy Abraham

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Source: pavelnovel.com

What was later described as the second deadliest school shooting, Adam Lanza shot and killed twenty children and six adult staff members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Lanza committed suicide soon after his shooting rampage. An immediate reaction to this incident was the ensuing debate on America’s gun culture. And at the heart of this debate lies the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

Gun culture, a word coined by historian Richard Hofstadter in his article America as a Gun Culture (1970), is a prominent part of the American culture and the nation’s frontier history. In Politics of Gun Control, author Robert Spitzer lists a number of factors responsible for the American gun culture as it stands today including the hunting ethos and the militia ethos. He opines that the hunting or sporting ethos was central as hunting provided a source for supplying food and income to the settlers. Hunting skills were also a mark of “manhood”. The militia ethos stemmed from the right of the settlers, during their westward expansion, to protect themselves from Native Indians and foreign armies. In the eighteenth century, due to the lack of money and manpower, maintaining a full time army was nearly impossible and this pushed people (blacks and women were excluded) to take arms to protect their territory [1].

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Source: netrightdaily.com

The gun culture in the present day America is marked by two diametrically opposite positions— the pro-gun control movement and the anti-gun control movement. The pro-gun control movement asserts that there needs to be restrictions placed on the “right to bear arms” in the light of gun violence. This argument is countered by the anti-gun control movement who believe that guns provide a sense of safety and security and gun restrictions are an infringement on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. However, the arguments presented by both side runs deeper that these superficial reasons. We’ll come back to this debate later.

Both these movements are actively promoting their position through various mechanisms including lobbying. Lobbying is a legitimate activity in the US which seeks to influence the decision making process in Congress, here individuals (lobbyists) advocate and try to “sell” the standpoint of the organizations, groups or people’s interests (those who hire them) to public officials. The anti-gun control organizations like National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America are recognized to be powerful and influential lobbies in the US. Pro-gun control lobbying organizations like the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence is equally influential.

Though gun ownership debate varies from state to state, Republicans are more likely to support the anti-gun control stand. A close inspection of the NRA’s political funding reflects this fact too—it pledged financial support to more Republicans ($961,743 i.e. 88%) than Democrats ($125,650 i.e. 12%) in 2012 [2]. In the case of states, those likely to support restrictions on guns are coastal and more populous states such as New York, New Jersey and California. While Southern states like Alabama and Florida and Midwestern states like Montana and Wyoming are more or less pro-gun [3].

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Source:dannottdotcom.files.wordpress.com

While it may seem strange to those living in India, issues regarding guns (i.e. gun control and gun culture) is a high profile part of American politics. How high profile? If reports are to be believed, a candidate’s (or political party’s) stand on gun control (pro- or anti-) can make or break his (or their) political ambitions. An often cited example is that of Al Gore’s defeat in his home state of Tennessee. Post election analysis revealed that Gore could have won the 2000 elections, with or without Florida, had he been able to acquire the 11 electoral votes from the state. His pro-gun control stance [4] was one of many reasons that contributed to his failure to fulfill his objective of becoming the next President. But of course, there are many who are quick to refute this claim. Former President Bill Clinton, too, in his 2004 memoir believed that the Democrats lost the 1994 midterm elections because they passed an assault weapons ban the same year [5]. President Obama too presented a number of proposals for restriction on firearms on January 16, 2013. The move, as predicted, has not been well received by the anti-gun control organizations and this has certainly affected his popularity rates.

Major legislations too have been the outcome of the gun politics debate in the US. The federal gun related laws are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It was the assassination of leaders like Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy that lead to the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Besides this, there are legislations like—the National Firearms Act (1934), Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the Firearms Owners Protection Act, Gun-Free School Zones Act (1990) and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993). However in keeping with the US federal government structure, every state and some local governments have their own gun laws resulting in a patchwork of legislation that varies state to state [3].

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Source: media.salon.com

Gun politics is thus, central to American politics and ethos. The “Great American Gun Debate” [6] comes to the forefront with every act of gun violence. This is particularly true as the issue of gun control has come back to haunt America after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the Hadiya Pendleton mistaken shooting in Chicago on January 29th, 2013. The Pendleton shooting, in fact, hit close to home for President Obama as she was killed about a mile away from Obama’s home in Chicago and had earlier performed at his inauguration in Washington [7].

The two incidents of shooting created an emotionally charged environment that pro-gun control activists use to demonstrate the security threat that guns pose. The human cost of gun violence must be noted in this sense. They argued that easy accessibility to guns is a cause of concern. Though gun homicides tend to grab national and international headlines, pro gun control activists also point out to the other gun related crimes—gun suicides, unintentional shooting, the usage of firearms in robberies and aggravated assault. Gang rivalries especially in poorer neighborhoods of populous cities have become a thriving arena for gun violence and a major cause of concern. It is interesting to note that these activists believe that guns promote terror, anarchy, racism and sexism [8]. They feel that guns have no role in a developed modern society [9] and that it is morally wrong. They view that guns as an instrument of aggression, as firearms are the third leading cause of injury related death (behind poisoning and motor vehicle accidents) [10]. They press for gun restrictions and total gun bans in the light of gun violence.

The anti-gun control lobby however, refutes all these arguments stating that gun control is actually an infringement on Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms”. While some claim that having a gun in the household provides a sense of security and protection as the crime rates escalates, others relate guns rights with recreational activities like hunting and other sporting activities. Gun collecting is also a hobby, as was in the case of Lanza’s mother (this gave Lanza access to the three semi-automatic firearms and a combat shotgun which were recovered at the crime scene).

Anti-gun control activists use adages like “guns don’t kill, people do”. This argument points out that a gun by itself cannot be termed as ‘inherently good’ and ‘inherently bad’ and this categorization is “fundamentally silly” [11].

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Source: statisticbrain.com

While security seems to be the obvious issue here, there is a deeper layer to the gun control debate. It is interesting to know the general demographic characteristics of both groups. A Gallup poll [12] revealed that 3 in 10 Americans personally owned a gun. The most common reasons for gun ownership were—protection against crime, for hunting and for target shooting. Males were more likely to own guns, as were Southerners and Midwesterners, older Americans and Republicans. We have to rely on surveys and polls to provide a rough estimate as the US does not have a national gun registry.

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Source: statisticbrain.com/

Both positions present valid and convincing arguments favoring or against gun control in their own right. The debate thus, ensues and is circular in nature as there is no established causal link between gun and violence. With every shooting making headline, the issue will continue to come to the forefront with emotional resonance. Pro-gun control activists will once again push for gun restrictions and tougher gun laws, but this will countered by the anti-gun control activists using a number of methods. Eventually the debate may become dormant and lose steam before another shooting resurrects it. In fact, looking at the difficulty in reaching a solution, the “Great American Gun Debate” will always exist and be a part of the American ethos. Nonetheless, the answer could lie in the federal structure of the US government itself. Local and state governments can enact gun laws according to the needs of the local population seeing the difficulty of finding a common ground in federal legislations.

On a personal note—before I started my research on this topic, the answer, without hesitation, seemed clear: pro-gun control (also called anti-gun) was the way forward. I have in the past staunchly supported the anti gun stand as the idea of private ownership of firearms was almost foreign to me. However, the more I studied the two positions in the gun debate, the more challenging it became to take a stand. At present, this issue remains an unresolved dilemma for me and this could also be true for the American government and its people—both past and present. However I would like to hear your opinion on this issue, do leave a comment! What is your take on this issue? Where do you stand in the gun debate and why?

 

Works Cited:

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[1] R. Spitzer, The Politics of Gun Control, Chatham House Publishers, 1995.

[2] Centre for Responsive Politics, “Open Secrets,” [Online]. Available: http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals.php?id=D000000082&cycle=2012. [Accessed 12 February 2013].
[3] L. Sales. [Online]. Available: http://web.archive.org/web/20080602013337/http://www.abc.net.au/news/indepth/featureitems/s1899524.htm. [Accessed 12 February 2013].
[4] C. C. Thompson and T. Hay, 12 May 2000. [Online]. Available: http://www.wnd.com/2000/12/4347/. [Accessed 12 February 2013].
[5] R. Spitzer. [Online]. Available: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/robert-j-spitzer-five-myths-about-gun-control/article_cd480cbe-536a-11e2-b9f8-001a4bcf887a.html. [Accessed 12 February 2013].
[6] D. B. Kates Jr. and G. Kleck, The Great American Gun Debate: Essays on Firearms, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute , 1997.
[7] M. Muskal, “A Tribune Newspaper Website,” 12 February 2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-bail-hadiya-pendleton-20130212,0,3111210.story. [Accessed 13 February 2013].
[8] E. Luna, “The .22 Caliber Rorschach Test,” Houston Law Review, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 54-131, 2002.
[9] D. Kahan, “The Secret Ambition of Deterrence,” Harvard Law Review, vol. 119, December 1999.
[10] National Centre for Injury Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Leading Causes of Death Reports, 1999-2010, for National, Regional, and States,” [Online]. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leading_causes_death.html. [Accessed 15 February 2013].
[11] J. D. Wright, “Ten Essential Observations on Guns in America,” in Guns in America: A Reader, New York, New York University Press, 1999, pp. 500-507.
[12] Gallup Gun Poll, “Gallup,” [Online]. Available: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1645/Guns.aspx. [Accessed 16 February 2013].

17 Responses to “The Wild Wild West: “Gun Politics” in the United States”

  1. Dr. Rodney Jones February 17, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    Vincy, your report on research and the politics of gun control here are pretty good at a general level. The 2nd Amendment reflected the culture of a new country based on the merger of colonies (between 1776 and 1800) and a huge frontier area as well as territories claimed by other European states — notably, Britain, France, Spain and Spain’s offshoot – Mexico. The expansion of settlers into unsettled areas, as you noted, (muskets mainly not cannons) depended in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries on self-reliance and some weapons to defend against native tribes, rather than on a national army. But the concept of well regulated miitias bearing arms was the idea of citizens owning arms coming together to form militias, if necessary, to resist tyranny. The initial resistance to the British crown and its Redcoat soldiers was local militias, spontaneously organized at first. The idea of having the capability to resist some future tyranny with citizens having the right to bear arms (own them) and form up as militias to roll back tyranny (authoritarian government) was the underlying concept of the 2nd Amendment. It also reflected the idea of state’s rights against the federal government — the possibility of tyranny of federal action and the need for states to be able to resist that. In any case, the context of that time was in the tender years of the creation of the United States of America. Even without the 2nd Amendment, the society was one in which local ownership of “firearms” (muskets back then) was widespread. The society valued individual rights as well, and the evolution of the understanding of the 2nd Amendment became one of the individual citizen’s right to own (or bear) arms. Yes, this meant “males” at the time, and until slavery was abolished most Afro-Americans were slaves and not citizens, so the right did not apply to them.
    Today the main concern most pro-gun-rights citizens have is either hunting and sportsmanship or ability to resist criminal assault, as you have mentioned. That desire is very widelyheld

  2. Dr. Rodney Jones February 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    I have to pick up afresh because your blog software denies me the ability to edit my comments and see what the last sentences were. The last point is that the cultural values of “hunting and sportsmanship” and of the right to use self defense against criminal assault are values that are very widely held.
    But, of course, demography and technology have changed since 1800 — there are now large and densely populated cities, and there are much more lethal, fast-firing weapons, both handguns and rifles, including military assault rifles. The question is whether the right to bear arms is so absolute that it includes such technology without restriction. Weapons of that kind in the hands of criminals are also much more lethal and devasting to law enforcement, as well as, if turned towards ordinary citizens (as in car and bank robberies) that simply was not part of the picture back in the early 19th century.
    Your characterization of the debate does not deall adequately with nuance. While the NRA as the principal pro-gun lobby interest group is relatively absolute, a majority of its members support some gun restrictions. You would not know that from what the NRA says publicly. The NRA leadership takes an almost absolute position against restrictions of any kind against the right of ownership and and even the right to own the fast-firing technology and miitary style weapons (of course, the NRA does notanymore defend a right to own what are known as “machine guns” or bazookas or artillery or tanks, but it defends the right to own almost anything else that would be a handheld gun or a rifle.
    The interest groups that support gun restrictions of some kind are varied and not so abolute in their positions. Many law enforcement organizations oppose letting just anyone own military style assault weapons because they cannot control criminals who brandish them without considerable loss of life on their own part.

  3. Dr. Rodney Jones February 17, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    The NRA has long fought universal registration, which is common in many advanced countries, and is unlikely to be adopted in the US. But the NRA has also fought universal “checks” on prior criminal records in the sale of guns. Prior criminal records and possibly records of mental problems are now a matter of serious discussion and the NRA may very well be unable to block legislation that adopts universal checks. The biggest loopholes are in the sale of guns at so-called “gun shows” — big organized events. A secondary loophole is strictly private sales, not by registered gun shows, but just sales by an owner to a neighbor of a friend. My forecast is that the NRA will lose on this issue within the next year or two and universal gun checks will become nationwide law. The enforcement will however be in the hands of the states.
    The other issues are (1) whether a ban on commercial sales can be achieved where the weapon is a miitary assult style weapon; (2) whether a ban can be applied and enforces to high-capacity magazines (like magazines that contain more than 7 or 10 bullets); (3) whether the available databases of prior criminal behavior can be properly stitched together nationwide, since these tend to be state databases and not necessarily all following the same standards of data and electronic availabiity.

  4. Dr. Rodney Jones February 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    And there are other issues as well, such as whether and how evidence of mental impairment should be introduced, since most mental illness that is treated is of individuals who are not severely disturbed and even when they are, are not necessarily prone to violence — and this involves privacy rights and avoiding stigmatization for minor issues for large numbers in the population. So the mental health issue will have to be addressed, I believe, but how that is done is a complex issue. It is how to balance the first and second amendments.

    This has put a lot of material on your blog, some of it important to show the complexity of the issue, some of it to show nuance. The vast majority of gun control advocates are not opposed to gun ownership and use by individuals for hunting or even for private defense against criminal assault, but they are interested in restrictions on the sale of guns to criminals and many are interested in restricting the sale of fast-firing weapons with large capacity magazines. Such guns are totally unnecessary for hunting and are actually unsportsmanlike, and anyone who know how to handle a gun for self-defense does not need high-capacity magazines that exceed 10 rounds.

    • Vincy Abraham February 18, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

      Thank you, Dr. Jones, for the informative feedback. I’m glad that you’ve raised a number of issues in the course of your comments, I truly appreciate the effort!

      It was certainly interesting to read the history of the second amendment. I wish I had the liberty to divulge the historical aspect in much more detail, but I had to keep the word count in mind. In the course of writing the blog-post, I found so many references to how guns have always been part of the historical legacy (borne out of necessity) in the US—especially during the westward expansion. Popular culture has been a testament to this too. Who doesn’t remember the cult Clint Eastwood starrer, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” representing the gun culture in its own way?

      I found it particularly interesting to read that the second amendment has also been interpreted as the “state’s rights against the federal government”. I did not know this! Has there been any move to change the “wordings” (for lack of a better word) of the amendment recently seeing that this could make things difficult for the federal government?

      The issue that fast firing machine guns pose (both in the hands of ordinary citizens and criminals) is certainly a cause of concern. Perhaps, this is where a federal gun policy could lay down the “reasonable restrictions” to counter any absolutist interpretation of the amendment. But I’m aware that this is not as simple as my sentence makes it to be.

      Now about the NRA, I have read reports about how the GOA has come to loggerheads with it on its changing stance on gun restrictions. I visited the GOA website and the first line that popped up was Ron Paul’s statement, “The only no compromise gun lobby in Washington.” Now, is GOA as uncompromising as it sounds? Or are they pulling a fast one?

      The complexity of the mental illness or other conditions like severe depression (this is not to say that the two are same) aspect is certainly taxing. Seung-Hui Cho (responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre) was reportedly suffering from major depressive disorder. As you pointed out, here’s where the difficulty rises even with the universal “checks” in place. A background check is essentially focused on past criminal records and does not include the mental condition of the individual. Now should it include this criterion, is a question worth asking. And if it is introduced in the check stage, what about the privacy and stigmatization (concerns that you pointed out)?

      • Emily Fitzgerald February 19, 2013 at 1:51 am #

        This was an extremely informative article. I’ve always heard, “Americans love their guns.” And although this clearly is not the sentiment of all Americans, I always wondered why it seemed so innate in the culture. Looking at the historical aspects laid out in this article, I couldn’t agree more with the reasoning behind America’s foundation old “gun culture”.
        As a Californian, I have known nothing but the strictest gun laws in the United States. I was shocked when I first heard how relaxed other states are on their gun laws. It’s is not a surprise that there is such heat in the gun debate when it seems that nation shaking shootings are occurring on almost a monthly bases now. I think this article did an excellent job depicting the culture conflict in an unbiased way.

  5. Elaine Marie Cooper February 19, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    Vincy, what a marvelous job you did researching this very complex issue. Let me add a bit of perspective to this issue from another viewpoint that has not been addressed—that of the high value that most Americans place in our Constitution. It is the very fabric of who we are as Americans and we value the standards by which we hold our freedom so dear.

    That freedom was not just fought for in the American Revolution. It has been threatened many times throughout our history. Americans do not take it for granted, but value the original documents that helped found our nation on the principle that all people are created equal. That was just the beginning in that Declaration of Independence that spoke of the tyranny of the British government in 1776.

    When that war was won by America in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, our nation needed a new government with new guidelines and standards—a unique document that assured America that there would be no one person or entity that could decide the people’s rights. There would be a neutral standard that assured liberty for all against despotism. That document was the United States Constitution.

    While some may say that tyranny is no longer a threat and that muskets (guns) are no longer needed because the danger is past, not only ignore history, they ignore the nature of man.

    It is ingrained in the hearts of freedom-loving Americans that the Constitution is too valuable a standard to be ignored. May we in my country never take this freedom for granted.

    You will not hear this message from much of the media. But our country is quite divided on many issues and the voice of those who value the Constitution is ringing loudly and clearly from sea to shining sea.

    Thank you for your thoughtful blog post.

    • Vincy Abraham February 19, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      Thank you, Elaine, for adding this very interesting perspective to the gun debate.

      The high value placed on the American Constitution (especially the circumstances that led to its adoption) is something that I haven’t explored in this post. I have focused more on the issue of security and the threats that guns pose. And that’s why I’m glad you brought it up! This perspective does add another quandary to the gun debate.

      If anything is an indicator of the high value placed on the US Constitution, it is the amendment procedure itself. The process is known to be rigid and difficult, and that could be another reason why there have been only 27 ratified amendments in its 225 years of adoption. In India, the amendment procedure is a curious mix of flexibility and rigidity. We have had about 104 amendments in the course of 63 yrs—but that’s a whole different story.

      However, a question worth asking is that should there be restrictions to the second amendment in the light of increasing rates of gun violence?

      • Elaine Marie Cooper February 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

        Vincy, this is the entire text of the Second Amendment: ‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ What portion of this needs to be restricted? The states already have numerous laws that can be enacted to regulate gun purchasing in their states. They can (and often do) require background checks. Should the states restrict the types of guns allowed in their states? They certainly have the freedom to do that and many apparently do. The point is, you do not need to change the second amendment to gain more control over the situation. Many fear that if all the law-abiding citizens must turn in their weapons, who is left with the ammunition? The criminals.

        When it comes to background checks, that would not have stopped the terrible tragedy at Newtown, Ct. The guns belonged to the mother of the shooter. Should the types of weapons made available for purchase be restricted? Probably so. But again, you do not need to challenge the second Amendment to do that.

        There was a little reported incident in China the very same say of the Connecticut shooting: A man went into a school and stabbed over 20 children. Is the problem the weapon or the demented individual that used it for harm? Are they going to increase help for families with members who are dangerously mentally ill? Apparently, the shooter at Newtown worried his mother (before this happened) enough that she sought help and did not receive it! Where are the laws enacted to help these families???

        And what about Hollywood with its EXCESSIVELY VIOLENT MOVIES AND VIDEO GAMES??? I am disgusted by what is available for purchase that can fill an already troubled soul with ideas of mass killing. It is a sin! Has our government sought to restrict these horrendous video games, which were known to have been used by the Connecticut shooter?? I am appalled at the way Washington DC panders the powerful in Hollywood.

        My opinion on the matter. The Constitution is not the problem, although the mainstream media might want you and the rest of the world to believe it is.

        Thanks for listening.

  6. Vincy Abraham February 19, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    Emily, I somehow cannot find a reply button to your comment but I’m hoping you would read this. I’m glad that the post was informative for you. I was equally surprised to learn about the historical aspect of the gun culture and why there have been so many references to it in the popular Western/Cowboy films—that should have been my first clue.

    In the case of India, gun ownership is regulated under the Arms Act of 1959 and it does extend to the whole of India. It is the quasi federal nature of India that makes this regulation possible. There are a number of restrictions involved including—the caliber and the type of firearm. That’s India for you.

    I was curious though, how strict are the gun laws in California?

  7. Vincy Abraham February 20, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Elaine, the point you raised reminded me of the questions I struggled with when writing this topic… I’ve mentioned this in the post itself but I don’t mind stating it again. For me, it became difficult to take sides on a debate that is beyond superficial reasoning. I’ve realized that this is a deeply subjective matter for Americans (and rightly so). I do not or even cannot, claim to have an objective answer to it—it is not as simple as it appears. A number of factors are at play here: American historical experiences, the culture there, the way of life and morality and religion…

    Thank you for elucidating your opinion. I value and respect it! It is indeed fascinating to read the arguments put forth by (and within) each group.

    The difficulty in reaching a consensus or at least a broad agreement on the issue is exactly why we need to discuss and deliberate more. This is a necessary discourse and I’m glad we’re doing attempting to do just that here!

  8. Caitlyn Bivans March 3, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    I simply want to say I am all new to weblog and absolutely savored this page. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your website . You really come with awesome articles. Regards for revealing your web page.

  9. Vincy Abraham March 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I recently received a comment (via Facebook) from my classmate, Vaishnav Mudbhatkal, on this post, he writes:

    Vincy, a very well researched blog-post. At the end of your article, I find myself in the same dilemma as you.

    I would like to make certain observations in general.

    1) I feel, the idea of maintaining a “well-regulated militia… necessary to the security of a free state” connotes , inter-alia, the settler mindset rooted in 18th century. In contemporary times, there are established processes to maintain security of a free state, eg. conscription. Though USA discontinued it in 1973, a “Selective Service System” still exists, non-compliance can invite state action.

    2) Culture- I believe these issues are deeply rooted in the culture of the community. After winning elections, South African President Jacob Zuma loves to dance to the song “Bring me my machine gun”. (an article on this appeared in “THE HINDU”). Even Oscar Pistorius’s case has renewed the Gun debate in South Africa.

    3) Examples from India- Sikhs in India are legally allowed to carry “kirpan”- a dagger, it is allowed as a religious symbol and sentiments attached to it. More interestingly, Kodava people in Kodagu district, popularly known as “Coorg” in Karnataka are “legally allowed to carry firearms ,within disrict limits, without license”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodava_people#Firearms.
    They also use it for hunting wild boars. However, it is also surprising to know that, since independence, there have been no incidents, as such, where firearms were used with a criminal intent !

    4) I would also like to highlight two recent instances which I read about. Both were in the aftermath of the Delhi Rape Case. First, Shiv Sena distributed knives, so that women could “protect” themselves. I am not against protecting women ! But a more prudent idea would have been to distribute pepper sprays and giving free lessons in self-defence. As well as give suggestion for making our institutions more gender sensitive. (I believe I am expecting too much from SS !). Second, Delhi Police received a surge of applications for licenses to carry firearms. When the police refused, they were asked by people to give it “in writing”. My emphasis is more on the second case. In my opinion, the police were not wrong in denying permissions. These cases somewhere highlight the growing culture of intolerance spreading through our democratic landscape .

    I believe I have been able to highlight some grey areas (dilemmas) in this debate, haphazardly though.

    • Vincy Abraham March 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      One thing that I particularly liked about Vaishnav’s observation, is that it hits home base for us in India.

      The analogy he drew using the “acceptable” weapons (for lack of a better word) in India actually highlight the difficulty in coming to conclusive end to this debate! And yes, this does bring us to the issue of intolerance in the light of “in”security…

      Thanks for this insightful comment, Vaishnav! Looking forward to hearing from you.

  10. Anie March 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    A good write-up and you have researched to get a ground on which side to sway making the pros/cons slightly difficult to take one stand. In light of the frequent discussions on gun control, an immediate measure that can mitigate more of these kind is to advocate stringent measures on background checks . On comparing the two countries – Canada and the US – a strict enforcement law to own and operate firearms in the former make it controlled for individuals who do not make the right use of holding a possession and acquisition license. Recent tweets from the president indicate certain changes that is expected & it is yet to be seen.

    Keep writing and I wish you the very best!

  11. Rishikesh Tiwari March 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Hey Hood Job Vincy Really Very Good Information You have Provided here and Discussion is also very Knowledgeable……

    Thanks a Lot For Educating….

  12. Kester Pereira March 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    A good article bringing about the various perspectives about ‘Gun Control in America’. However, I feel more than ‘Gun Control’, America needs to deliberate about ‘Gun Safety’.

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