The gun culture is, historically and traditionally, deeply embedded in the US dating back to the Wild West days, the practice of slavery and later due to security concerns brought about by a high incidence of crime. — FILE pic

MASS shootings in the United States are getting worse as can be seen from the Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 people and wounded 515. On Nov 5, another 26 were killed at a rural church in Texas. And, last year, 49 were killed and 58 injured in Orlando.

The gun culture is, historically and traditionally, deeply embedded in the US dating back to the Wild West days, the practice of slavery and later due to security concerns brought about by a high incidence of crime.

Many US presidents have sought to find a solution to such mass shootings through restrictions on firearm ownership, but without much success. Former US president Barack Obama campaigned hard to control gun ownership, but was met with only partial success in the form of conducting background checks.

The perils of unrestricted gun ownership continue to risk the lives of the people in the US, and it is an infringement of their human rights.

Australia, which had a similar history to the US and also had a high ownership of firearms, had somehow controlled the problem following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 involving many innocent people, and through political will.

Australia is a good model for the US to follow. For a start, restrictions as to the number of firearms one can legally own will find more acceptance to the powerful pro-gun lobby.

With high-tech guns being manufactured, there is no need for quantity, but quality. A person should not be allowed to own more than a gun or two, depending on his home locality. Some in remote areas and agricultural areas can be allowed to own two. This will reduce the number of firearms and also prevent the accumulation of these dangerous weapons as per the case with Stephen Paddock, who reportedly had enough firearms in his hotel room to start a civil war.

There is no justification for firearms in public places as there are police, enforcement or security personnel present there. And, it is not ethically or morally right to bring firearms into a church or university. Since 9/11, there has been a lot of fear and concern about security and terrorist threats.

Although the US is well-protected so as to be termed “Fortress America”, mainly through intelligence gathering and strict policing under the emphasis of Homeland security, there is, however, an increase in hate crimes and racist profiling of groups prone to crime and violence.

These increase the danger of mass shootings. Despite all security checks and surveillance, there is always the risk of “lone wolf” attacks that can be triggered by anyone for any reason. It is no point giving the excuse that those committing the mass shootings are mostly insane.

Every country has its share of the mentally unstable and lunatics, but they are unable to do much harm due to the simple fact that they do not have easy access to lethal firearms.

A better way is to restrict the number of guns for an individual and prevent these weapons from being brought to public areas. It is only, gradually, through these kind of common-sense measures that the Americans can be weaned from their love of guns.

V. THOMAS

Sungai Buloh, Selangor

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