America is armed to the teeth and dangerous

This year, over 140 people have died, and there have been 27 school shootings already


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Wed 25 May 2022, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Thu 26 May 2022, 12:53 PM

God Bless America. The single most-repeated Famous Three Words to come out of the mouths of any US President — Republican, Democrat, doesn’t matter. But imagine living in a country, the world’s biggest superpower, and (allegedly) the ‘greatest country on Earth’, and not knowing, on a daily basis, whether your kid (or kids) will return home from school. Alive.

It’s perhaps scarier — if there CAN be a relativity-ness theory — that the latest instalment of mass shootings in schools (a phrase that, unfortunately, might qualify as an adage in future grammar lessons) was triggered by a ‘kid’. So, even if you know about it, here’s the context: yesterday, an 18-year-old boy, Salvador Ramos, opened fire and killed at least 19 children — most of them under 10 — and two teachers at a primary school in Uvalde, Texas. A week prior to that, another 18-year-old killed ten people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

I don’t want to get into the matter of gun legislation in the US, and how and why it is stuck in various congressional gridlocks, and why nothing much will come out of all the anti-gun lobbying anytime in the near future — there are tomes being written on it every day. But technicalities apart, the failure to implement gun control laws only means one thing: this is a scourge that will only be fanned… unless there is total ceasefire at a social, personal level.

This is a flat realisation that should come easily, one might argue, but, unbelievable though it may sound, as with everything else, there is real polarisation on the subject. Polarisations on matters like, say, whether or not breastfeeding should remain ‘private’ and not encouraged in public can be considered rabble-rousing and therefore ignored in favour of whichever choice one may opt for.

But being enabled to buy guns and potentially being enabled to pick them up and go on a shooting spree is a subject that is DEFINITELY not up for debate.

There can only be one point of view: say no to guns. So what if legislation allows them?

I have a friend who lives in Texas, so, for her, it hit home even harder. On social media, she shared snatches of chats from their community groups. There were parents talking about how their home is a ‘gun-allowed zone’. One person went to the extent of saying that her kids “know how to fire” and take care of their home in case someone tries to break in, and that she does not — categorically, she’s used capital letters for emphasis — feel in any way uncomfortable having not just one but ‘quite a few’ (here again, she uses capital letters for emphasis) guns at home.

Then, it gets even more dystopian and holds out a mirror to the social fabric we live in these days. Salvador Ramos, reportedly, had a TikTok page with the profile bio that read: “Kids be scared irl [in real life]”. Why didn’t social media denizens — who have an opinion on everything under the sun, and whose intense scrutiny has become a catchment for marketers — miss that? Or didn’t they care, because they were too busy checking out ROFL videos?

Every year, the FBI helpfully brings out reports enumerating the consequences of gun violence in the US. This year, over 140 people have died, and there have been 27 school shootings already. “In 2021, almost 250 people were hit by active shooters — 103 died”. Sounding a bit like a company that’s working furiously to fatten its bottom line in a capitalist hegemony, it is reported that “the number of active shooting incidents last year represents a 50 per cent increase from 2020 and almost double the number in 2017”.

Closer home, I was watching an Indian serial where a man was trying to learn how to use a gun watching a YouTube video. Another Polish one where teenagers are using guns like they would use smartphones. Yes, it’s that simple. You don’t have to enroll at a shooting range anymore; you have technology at your fingertips.

It’s a different story when it transposes to real life. But whatever happened to pre-emptive strikes?

Before embarking on the mass murder at the school, the 18-year-old ‘gunman’ had shot his grandmother at home. She had probably seen him leaving the house, a rifle in hand, and had tried to stop him. Maybe he had his silencer on, and no one in the vicinity heard the shots when he killed her. Or maybe sounds of guns going off is fairly common, and no one turns a hair: “It’s one of those kids playin’ Bulletstorm”.

After the carnage, President Joe Biden sounded rhetorically ineffectual when said: “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”

We all know the answer to that.

So, it’s time for Americans — and anybody else for that matter — to pick up the cudgels. And drop the guns.

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