President Joe Biden, like many of his predecessors, spoke in agony and desperation when a mad man shot and killed innocent children in a school. He said “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” He was bewildered that the gun lobby was more powerful than him.
The most powerful country in the world cannot discipline its own citizens against the uncontrolled spread of guns across the country. Parents in the US cannot send their children to school with the confidence that they will come back alive.
But the President can only pray “God bless America” as his citizens are convinced that they are safe only if they are armed.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, and about a third of American adults say they personally own a gun. But there was a lack of clear federal court ruling defining the right until the US Supreme Court ruled that the law protects any individual's right to keep and bear arms unconnected with service in a militia for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defence within the home.
In the latest incident a few days ago, an 18-year-old boy, Salvador Ramos, opened fire and killed at least 19 children — most of them under 10 — and two teachers at a primary school in Uvalde, Texas.
A week prior to that, another 18-year-old killed ten people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The scenes were familiar as it had happened many times before in different parts of the United States. Every time, everyone is agitated and determined to legislate new gun laws, but give up their efforts even before the last dead body is buried and the last blood stains are washed away.
The next reminder comes when another group of innocent children fall victim to another gun in another corner of the country.
Futile anti-gun lobbying
Much has been written about the matter of gun legislation in the US, and how and why it is stuck in various congressional gridlocks, and why nothing much will come out of all the anti-gun lobbying anytime in the near future.
It is very clear, however, that the the failure to implement gun control laws only shows that this is a scourge that will only spread further unless there is a strong legislation banning firearms outside the law enforcement community.
Stark divisions on gun policy
The ridiculous arguments against gun control is based on a false sense of absolute freedom expressed in the opposition to wearing masks or vaccination even when there were grave risks to the whole community. The polarisation in the society on this subject is unbelievably strong.
There are differences in gun ownership rates by political party affiliation, gender, geography and other factors. For instance, 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they personally own a gun, compared with 20% of Democrats and Democratic supporters. Men are more likely than women to own a gun (39% vs 22%). And 41% of adults living in rural areas report owning a firearm, compared with about 29% of those living in the suburbs and two-in-ten living in cities.
The gun sales have risen in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. At the same time, more than half of the US population (53%) favours strict gun control laws. But the population is divided as to gun control will reduce shootings as it is believed that those who shoot are mentally deranged people, who respect no laws.
Arms for safety, says Trump
President Trump was unmistakably on the side of the gun lobby and even President Obama could not push any legislation through. But both of them initiated legislative measures, which were abandoned for no good reason. After the latest shootings, Donald Trump said that the response to the shooting should be arming the people, not disarming them.
Rejecting calls for stricter gun controls at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) event, Donald Trump said that the existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm people. He said that Americans should be allowed the firearms to defend themselves against "evil." As for schools, he recommended a strict security system to prevent shooting incidents.
Biden's words ring hollow
President Biden spoke movingly and blamed the gun lobbies for inhumanly preventing legislation. He kept saying that the time had come for action, but did not promise anything except rhetoric.
“And the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons which make them the most and largest profit. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.
Here’s what else I know: Most Americans support common sense laws — common sense gun laws.” And left it at that. A mix of passionate attachment to personal liberty, profit making by gun-makers, fear of fellow human beings, passion for hunting and sheer lethargy and negligence were evident in the US reaction to the Texas school shootings.
For God’s sake, how many more innocent children will be sacrificed before the laws are changed? Sadly, the only superpower stands bewildered without an answer as the rest of the world watches helplessly.