Millennium Post

Unwarranted tragedy

DeWayne Craddock, the 40-year-old African-American gunman who killed 12 and injured several others in Virginia Beach recently reportedly used two .45-caliber handguns for the crime and then killed himself. Some years back, a study of more than a 100 mass shootings by two Northeast University criminologists found 62 per cent crimes were committed with handguns whereas assault rifles were used in just 25 per cent of the cases. Unfortunately, the United States' focus has been on those 25 per cent of the cases only which were committed with assault rifles. Craddock may not fit the bill of an orthodox mass shooter but his choice of arms sure was typical and effective too. It is true that the shooter has easy access to deadly weapons but is that enough? So, move to ban certain categories of weapons and controlling the markets would bring an end to the carnage? It's definitely not the case as this whole concept of investing time, money, effort and political capital over gun bans seems to be utopian which cannot facilitate marginalisation of the shooters' disconnected murderous impulses. After the Christchurch attack in which a lone gunman killed 50 people in a mass shooting at two mosques during Friday prayers, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced new gun laws within days. But why do such mass killings happen? From a sense of grievance, the influence of religious entitlements, sense of deprivation, mental illness or just anger and resentment, the reasons for attack can be many. It is, therefore, important to understand this 'why' in order to cut the Gordian knot. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician at the University of California (UC), Davis, Medical Centre and the director of UC Davis's Violence Prevention Research Programme has studied gun violence for more than 30 years and is one of the few researchers to approach the matter as an issue of public health. Speaking on the difference between mass shootings from other acts of gun violence, he says: "They are rare, accounting for maybe 1 per cent of deaths from firearm violence. But they are also unique. They are the one form of violence about which no one can tell a story that leaves themselves out. It could happen to me. It could happen to my children. It could happen to my grandchildren. What public mass shootings have sadly done is, for the first time in history, made this everyone's problem." Wintermute also suggests a list of recommendations that evidence shows would reduce gun violence including improved background-check policies, strengthening enforcement efforts, considering a permit-to-purchase approach, prohibiting the release of firearms until background checks are completed, enacting gun-violence restraining order policies. It is important to understand that the right to bear arms is not the issue that needs to be confronted but rather it is the regulations that need to be discussed and implemented for the benefit of all. It is necessary to have a dialogue where all interested parties have a voice and an interest to solve the problem with a holistic perspective. Because no one deserves a tragedy.

Next Story
Share it