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Weapons don’t kill people

  • Published at 12:12 am April 23rd, 2019
Could this have been avoided with better weapon control laws?
Could this have been avoided with better weapon control laws? REUTERS

They just make it much, much easier to do so

What if all guns, explosives, and other weapons disappeared?

Perhaps many of us have thought about this scenario, that the world would be a better place if these instruments simply disappear one fine day. But how realistic is this?

Naturally, a question arises: Wouldn’t humans still suffer in the absence of murder weapons? People across the world would still suffer at the hands of other humans. A weapon-free world is wishful thinking and is not possible in today’s global reality, where conflicts, wars, and crimes are being treated as everyday natural events.

All human beings possess free will and freedom of thought. By nature, humans are likely to get involved in conflict, and we tend to establish our own interests through domination or abusing power over other humans. We don’t think twice to kill when it comes to safeguarding our own interests, for example.

What kills people?

Short answer: It’s not weapons, it’s us -- we kill our own kind.

What weapons do, however, is make it easier to kill more people in a certain period of time. So, taking someone’s gun away, pausing the production of explosives (if it could be made possible) might not stop people killing people, but it could at least deter them from more of us being killed.

Nonetheless, there are some important issues that Bangladesh needs to work on, at least when it comes to our Arms Act 1878. The vetting process of purchasing ammunition, for example, requires an authoritative body to monitor it.

Also, nothing is mentioned specifically in regards to background checks for the purchaser. A person at least 25 years old can apply to the deputy commissioner for getting a firearms license or renewing it. 

There are also no provisions for background checks of private vendors. In most cases, private vendors may opt to have a third-party licensed dealer run a background check, even though it may not be required by law.

It does not help that criminals have easy access to illegal firearms, as they are aided by unauthorized firearms manufacturers, dishonest traders, and even certain quarters among our law enforcement agencies, according to recent intelligence agency reports.

However, critics may argue that guns and weapons are far from the only instruments of killing. Gun laws matter very little to criminals -- their motive is to commit crime, after all. Thus, amending gun laws, at first glance, might not seem as effective a measure in protecting people. 

However, there is still practical sense in doing so. 

If access to firearms is made harder, number of crimes would automatically decrease. It’s worth noting that, in recent years, there have been at least 119 points on the India-Bangladesh border which have been used to smuggle firearms through, at least according to sources in intelligence agencies. So, in addition to the amendment, the control of the arms trafficking should be given utmost priority.

Following the recent terror attack in Sri Lanka from a couple of days ago, where a coordinated series of attacks in churches and hotels killed hundreds of people, and the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 50 dead, the current media focus is fully on the role that ease of access to firearms and explosives played in making these heinous crimes a reality.

Australia is a good example of a country that reduced the number of guns in its homeland following its own mass shooting incident in the 1990s.

Though it may not be possible for certain nations, especially those at war or in constant conflict, to reduce their production and usage of weapons, it is possible for most countries to take a long, hard look at their gun laws, if nothing else, to stop the tragedies caused by them frequently.

Bangladesh’s gun laws have been inherited from oppressive colonial masters, whose main aim of using guns was to force the peasantry of this land to stay under their rule.

These laws belong to them and it is high time we thought about updating them. 

Once re-formulated, a new set of laws will help us as a nation, with fewer gun-casualties. However, nothing will change if we continue to pay little attention to everyone in society, instead, we stand to witness increasing number of terror attacks.

Question is: How far are we willing to go to do anything about all of this? 

Shahriar Bin Wares is a student of law.