AS I See It:Restricting Guns: Now It Is Between Lawmakers And National Rifle Association

    Adam Lanza, clad in ‘black battle fatigues and a military vest’ picked up the deadliest arms as if to wage a battle against his enemies and thus become a ‘martyr’ to the memory of his countrymen. The monstrosity and evil attached to his crime didn’t deter him the least from raising one of the fiercest guns on the weakest, meekest, and the most defenseless offspring of our society. He killed the very womb that engendered him and destroyed the very school that taught him to live his life. He inflicted unbearable pain on parents of twenty first graders, and family members of six adult women. The hurt that refuses to heal prompted American citizens to indulge in dillydallying debate over banning guns which many believe should not have been in hands of the civilians at all. The momentum of discussion fizzled out within a week after the tragedy. The menacing gun enthusiasts and their National Rifle Association lobbied for more guns both in hands of the bad guy and in hands of the good guy.The sheer apathy and cruelty of Lanza’s action stirred the emotions of the nation and choked the president who so far remained very careful and restrained in exhibiting his feelings in public. ‘The Slaughter of Innocence,’ however, has hardly prompted the lawmakers to stand for the weak and defenseless citizens. When the National Rifle Association commented on massacre of children, it appeared a reasonable solution could be found to the gross abuse of ‘the right to bear Arms,’ as provided in the American constitution. But the much awaited press conference of the NRA, proved a damp squib as nothing afresh could come out of its perception of the tragedy in Newtown. . Their wellknown recipe, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” is nothing less than a sadistic understanding of the rising violence in public life. It is testing time for American legislature, the executive and the judiciary to frame suitable laws so that Americans never live under the reign of fear unleashed by some deranged lot of the society. At this time there are very few options. Mental health, guns, culture of violence in entertainment, and the media representation are some of the factors that have been blamed for the rising violence. The correlation of all these factors in so many tragedies can’t be wholly denied. But what are the possible solutions? It is true that had Adam Lanza not had access to the most dangerous weapons, he could not have killed 20 children and six adults. The case of a deranged man attacking 22 children with a knife on the same day in China provides a clear contrast. Had he access to AR-15, he would have killed hundreds of them. But fortunately, no children died in the attack. There is no doubt that worsening mental health of Americans is at an alarming point, but so is of many other industrialized countries. What can government do in the personal relations of husband and wife, their alleged paramours, children, stepchildren? Mental problems are most difficult to diagnose when 70% of the patients and their families remain in the denial mode. Many of the mentally unhealthy people show no signs of concern and even don’t have anything objectionable in their backgrounds. The point that mental situation can take U-turn in a flash of seconds is hard to tackle in the given circumstances. But what can be done during such a mental situation? Let’s keep guns like AR-15 out of the way of people who suffer occasionally from hallucinations and panic attacks. Culture of violence in entertainment industry and the media representation of it in actual life are said to cause tragic incidences of violence. But there are no immediate and foreseeable solutions to these problems. Even if we try to work on reducing violence in the entertainment industry, its real effect won’t be seen for years to come. The problem of gun violence in the meanwhile may become more intractable and cause more hurt on our psyche as a nation. Media representation of violence, indeed, is one of the problems that make gun violence representative in most news briefings, psychodramas, documentaries, and movies. But that alone isn’t the cause of rising gun violence. The problem of violence in media is undoubtedly worldwide, but why are Americans alone more affected than anybody else in the world? According to Washington Post columnist, Fareed Zakaria, the solution to gun violence isn’t complex at all, if there is a political will to solve it. The problem that stares in our faces is that we are 5 percent of world population, but we own 50 percent of world’s guns. Gun violence in America is thirty times that of Australia and France and twelve times higher that of other countries. The interesting thing is that American Bill of Rights by which second amendment ‘right to bear Arms’ was provided, is based on British Bill of Rights of 1689. In order to fully understand the intent of Second Amendment in our constitution, we should go back to all debates and views of the founding fathers. Their main concern was safety, security and freedom of speech so that organized government may not trample individual rights provided in the Bill of Rights. But such privileges were never unrestricted if some antisocial, instead of government, start threatening the very safety, security and freedom of speech. The Second Amendment should have occasioned some laws that would have checked any transgression to safety, security and freedom of speech. But in the absence of declared laws for more than two hundred years, frequent mass shootings are considered unrelated and isolated incidences. How can they be unrelated when access to the very automatic guns used in the crime has been made possible due to the Second Amendment? It is pertinent to dwell here on the British Bill of Rights, 1689 which founding fathers consulted to draft American Bill of Rights. John Lilburne (1614-1657), who was the background inspiration for philosopher John Locke, the key influence in ensuring individual liberties of common people states: For where there is no law declared, there can be no transgression.

    Therefore it is very requisite that the parliament would declare their privileges to the whole commons of England, that so no man may through ignorance (by the parliament’s default) run causelessly into the hazard of the loss of their lives, liberties, or estates.

    For here it is acknowledged by themselves that their power is limited by those that betrust them, and that they are not to do what they list but what they ought, namely, to provide for the people’s weal and not for their woe: so that unknown privileges are as dangerous as unlimited prerogatives being both of them secret snares, especially for the best-affected people. – John Lilburne, The 150th Page [1645] In the above statement made 367 years ago, Lilburne warns that Parliament’s failure to declare law and privileges to the whole commons of England may lead some men ‘through ignorance run ceaselessly into the hazard of the loss of their lives, liberties or estates. The English Bill of Rights that was adopted in 1689 reflects Lilburne’s viewpoints.

    In England, the Catholic King was replaced with a Protestant one. The rights of all protestants were preserved in the Bill of Rights adopted in 1689. The following text of clauses 7, 9, and 13 throws sufficient light on the intents and purposes of American Bill of Rights:
    7. That the subjects which are protestants, may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.
    9. That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.
    13. And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving of the laws, parliaments ought to be held frequently.It is right time for Congress and the Senate to take up defining the Bill of Rights so that it becomes quite evident that the Second Amendment was designed for ‘people’s weal not for their woe.’


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