Sunday March 18, 2018 03:43 PM

A uniquely American gun culture

  • Published at 04:15 PM February 16, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:18 PM February 17, 2018
A uniquely American gun culture
Will the gun lobby keep winning? / REUTERS

Weapons of mass destruction are readily available, defying homeland security

Another mass shooting has taken place in the US, and the same old cycle of shock, grief, outrage, and resignation may take place. We have been through this too many times to count, but here goes: Over the past 20 years, hundreds have been massacred in mass shootings across America.

This includes a church in South Carolina, an office party in California, a music festival in Las Vegas, and the latest tragedy: 17 killed by a former student inside a Florida high school. This former student, who clearly had mental problems, legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle, which was his weapon of choice for this carnage.

I write the same old cycle, as we have seen this played out so many times before: We see the expressions of grief and shock by those who lost their loved ones, we see the rage by everyday men and women tired of seeing gun violence destroying lives, we see the gun lobby striking a pose that having armed guards in the place of violence would have prevented this, we see the politicians offering their “thoughts and prayers,” and then we move on to another day. Are we ever going to get to the bottom of this?

The more firearms a nation has, the higher its rate of mass shootings, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama. Americans possess 42% of the world’s firearms, approximately 270 million guns.

Possessing semi-automatic weapons that create massacres again and again, and to be only told that this would not have happened if armed guards were present is simply not a solution

From 1996 until 2012, the US witnessed 90 mass shootings. When adjusted for population, only Yemen beats the land of the free in rate of mass shootings. Yemen, a war-torn nation of feudal tribes and the greatest nation on Earth share a similar problem: Wide accessibility of firearms to almost anyone who wants them.

My late grandmother owned a rifle; she was a trophy-winning marks-woman. On a dark night in Narayanganj, this rifle was used to scare off bandits trying to take the family’s jute. My former colleague at a construction firm in Austin, Texas, keeps a handgun underneath his car seat. He drives through highways at late nights; this is his only protection in dark, lonesome roads. These are valid reasons to own firearms.

One does not have to ban all firearms; surely there are benefits to having rifles and handguns when living or travelling in unsafe areas.

However, possessing semi-automatic weapons that create massacres again and again, and to be only told that this would not have happened if armed guards were present is simply not a solution.

Too many times, we see children, concert-goers, pedestrians die simply because of these weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the unstable. Assault rifles are not necessary for civilians, can we agree on that? One can say “enough is enough,” but will Congress listen to everyday Americans or the gun lobby?

Tamim Choudhury is a Texas-based Communications Specialist.

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