America struggles to stop a rash of mass shootings

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 20, 2019
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A college student takes part in a rally for gun control and anti-racism, in El Paso, Texas, the United States, Aug. 7, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

As the American politicians and experts were arguing yet again about how to put a lid on rampant gun violence, another shooting incident – in Philadelphia – further frayed public nerves. 

Luckily there wasn't any fatality; the injuries sustained by the six police officers were not life-threatening. The officers were trying to serve a drugs arrest warrant when the gunman started firing, resulting in a seven-hour stand-off before police managed to subdue the suspect, a white male. 

The Philadelphia shooting came on the heels of two deadly incidents of gun violence – in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio – killing more than 30 innocent people.

Faced with a seemingly endless series of mass shootings, the public are left wondering who to look to for succor. Nobody can provide a convincing answer why gun-wielding maniacs are left free to kill people at will. 

The three incidents detailed above once again spotlight the issue of gun control. 

As usual, American society is being torn apart by those determinedly supporting the constitutional right to bear arms and those opposing this idea and demanding some reasonable laws to try and keep guns out of the hands of fanatical killers. 

The pro-gun lobby base their stand on the Second Amendment to the U.S. constitution. "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," reads that succinct piece of legislation ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. 

A lot has been said and written about the objectives of the framers of the amendment in the crucial early years of the United States of America. The Supreme Court has also been called upon to deliver several rulings trying to interpret it.

Without going into that convoluted debate, a common view is that the amendment allows people to have weapons for self-defense or to use them for the defense of the state if needed. 

Common sense dictates that the amendment in no way provides any kind of justification to use the lethal weapons for mowing down people as we generally see in movies.  

Those who want to see an end to the gun violence do not necessarily ask for the entire amendment to be scrapped. Rather, the demand is that reasonable advance security checks should be a prerequisite for anyone being allowed to buy a gun. 

The powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), a gun rights advocacy group considered the main hurdle to any legislation, boasts millions of members, along with powerful links with politicians and industry. 

However, the law also prohibits using violence against unarmed people. So, why do elements within the NRA insisting on their gun rights ignore the rights to life and personal safety, also constitutionally guaranteed? 

However, the issue goes far beyond that argument. 

On the other side of the debate, we have the argument that guns per se don't kill. They are like any other weapons – a sword, a knife or an axe – that only become potentially lethal when wielded by individuals. 

We have seen many stabbing incidents around the world in recent times; people are been killed by simple weapons like a club. In older times, swords were considered as quite handy to target enemies. 

So, the problem is not just the automatic weapons, but must also focus on the ones holding them and pulling the trigger. As Americans debate curbs on buying guns and periodic checks on those possessing weapons, there is an urgent need to address the issue of mental health. 

On a wider level, the issue of culture of violence needs attention. We need to discourage behavior and actions that glorifies death and destruction. 

After the El Paso and Dayton shootings, President Donald Trump talked about reasonable checks to control guns. Any step towards it should be appreciated. 

But laws don't operate in isolation. Unless the American people and their elected representatives change their approach towards violence, they may have to witness more scenes of random mass shootings.  

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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