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Millennium Post

Why offence is not the best defence

This is a very bad case of déjà vu. It’s all the more horrible because an entire country seems to have accepted gun massacres as mundane and routine occurrence. America is becoming a serial mourner of a nation; it’s lamenting the loss of lives oh so theatrically. Their president is choking on his own (genuine) tears, as the shell-shocked parents put their little ones to their final sleep, knowing that nothing can wake their darlings up ever again.

Who picked up the weapon this time? Who fired the bullets? A mere twenty-year-old boy, almost a child himself, so lonely and deprived of social niceties. Medical history ‘confirms’ he was ‘autistic’, as if that can alleviate the pain suffered by the grieving parents, or as if his autism can make the gun that he held, that butchered 20 children and six adults, any less culpable. What does a mere boy know of the fatal consequences of handling a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic assault rifle? Well, that boy is also dead, as is his mother, whom he shot before he headed for the school where she taught. If Newtown, Connecticut must put a blame on anyone, can the tender shoulders and bony hands of the late, self-destroyed Adam Lanza really be the one that must carry it?

No, and a huge no! Every time someone on the edge of reason — be it a borderline depressive college student, a neurotic ex-military person, a nihilistic, tattoo-sporting fascist, or a frustrated love-sick teenager — picks up a gun and goes on a killing rampage, it’s the open sale and maddeningly easy availability of weapons and firearms in America that has to take responsibility.

Curing the menace of gun massacres with more open gun laws — basically the self-defense argument put forward by the powerful arms trade lobby — is akin to treating the effects of nuclear radiation with more nuclear radiation, or drug abuse with more drug abuse. It’s simply stupid, but can someone explain that to National Rifles Association of America? No it’s not the biggest cities that have the fiercest of the guns. In fact, the sleepier the hamlet, the tinier the town, the more aggressive its ammunition. In Newtown in Connecticut, Denver in Colorado, Milwaukee in Wisconsin, they boast of gun-owners or gun-sellers as much as, if not more than, they take pride in their schools or churches, although the Gurdwara in Milwaukee was an exception. So isn’t it a cruel twist of fate that the shooter, barely out of his adolescence, armed himself with four of the five guns that were owned by none other than his mother, and that the firearms too were bought way back in the 1990s. Guns don’t come with expiry dates, unfortunately, and even museum pieces can be as lethal as the just manufactured piece of fire-breathing beauty. Gun-selling and car-selling and booze-selling and cell phone-selling — not much of a difference in the self-proclaimed ‘greatest nation in the world.’ I recall that my elder cousin, who had the mind-blowing opportunity to be in Philadelphia during the time Superstorm Sandy swept East Coast of America, saying that the only thing that managed to seriously freak him out was not really the storm but that rifles and guns and all kinds of elaborate firearms were being openly sold at — guess where, but of course — Wal-Mart! He held a huge rifle in his hands and tried discussing its merits and demerits over a casual conversation with the gorgeous-looking salesgirl who was perfectly at ease to explain the nitty-gritties to him. If anything, she seemed mildly amused by my cousin’s naiveté regarding the all-important subject of guns and firearms. Days of deer-hunting and bird-shooting as sporting excuses for civilians to keep guns are over, and the sooner people realise that the better. For deer and birds have been the silent victims of this blood-sport for too long and no animal rights activists have really spoken up against this barbaric pastime. Tigers, lions, rhinos, sharks and other exquisite specimens have now another kind added to their list: human beings, mostly children. For the guns have now turned against the very beings that they were meant to protect in the first place.

America supplies three-quarters of the world’s arms trade. Gun shows are almost always over-spilling. Women often outsmart men in terms of possession and passion for firearms in this country. License for selling or buying guns is not an issue for most of the states in USA; homosexuality and race still are, despite a black president.  What good is a nationwide moral outrage and angry outpouring if the Democrat President is himself shy of mentioning the word ‘gun’ is his speech following the Newtown tragedy? The Gun Control Act, first passed in 1968, followed the heinous assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. After the series of university town massacres, particularly the one in Virginia Tech, and the life attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, prompted some introspection but clearly it wasn’t enough. Incredulous America needed more blood to be shed before it gets the drift of the bullet.

The Obituary page is now the front page in America. Bemoaning the dead, the unnecessarily dead, the dead whose lives have been nipped in the bud, the children now dead, dead in a horrific manner, dead after incredible suffering — that’s America’s shame and plight. The scarred lives of the survivors, children and adults, kindergarten students and teachers, are condemned to live out a lifelong trauma. Victims and survivors of communal riots, rape and other monstrous forms of torture might have a shared the string of pain with them. Others can hardly begin to comprehend the extent of the wound.

The president’s tears cannot dodge bullets. In the film Matrix, Neo is told that when he attains self-realisation, he won’t need to dodge bullets. This may be a far-fetched idea, but America can be rid of dodging bullets when there aren’t any bullets to dodge, not at least on the streets of little towns and pintsized drowsy dwellings. Sound of a bullet magazine going off is not a way to pierce the quietude, although it’s a very rude wake up call. (IPA)
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