|Source: USA Today|
Since the incident, the debate on gun control has intensified, with both sides of the divide coming up with arguments to support their respective stand on the issue. Some of these arguments make absolutely no sense, if I may say so. Just go to Piers Morgan at CNN to listen to some of these debates.
Malaysia is a country with strict laws on gun possession. Under the Arms Act of 1960, no person is allowed to own or manufacture a gun without first applying for a license or permit. The maximum penalty for illicit possession of firearms is up to 7 years prison and/or a fine of up to Rm10,000. There has been no mass shooting of innocent people by civilians. Gun homicide here is less than 0.5% per 100,000 people. Let's hope it remains that way.
|Japan and the US are at the opposite ends of the list . Source: Washington Post|
Coming from such a background, I find the data on gun ownership in the US alarming. US gun control laws are lax. Only 40% gun owners go through background checks before buying a gun. You can buy a gun easily at the thousands of gun stores or gun fairs in the country. Walmart, the world's largest retailer, sells guns, including assault weapons.
The data below is taken from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world - an average of 88 per 100 people.
- There are 270 million guns in America in the hands of civilians.
- In 2010, there were 11,422 homicides and 19,392 suicides involving guns.
- In 2011, 59,208 people were wounded by guns.
- Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there has been a spike in gun sales. 250,000 guns were purchased after the shooting as people feared stricter gun control laws would soon be enforced.
Although the figures have gone done slightly for last year, mass shootings seem to have increased, with 16 last year, including the movie theatre shooting in Aurora and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In total, at least 88 people have died from these shootings in 2012.
These are all scary numbers. Yet, each time the debate comes up, gun owners turn to the 2nd Amendment, citing their right to bear arms as enshrined in the constitution. They say they need guns to protect themselves and their loved ones, and for the sport of hunting. It is not surprising the National Rifle Association (NRA) boasts a membership of 4.2 million.
|Why can't the NRA members see the sense |
in supporting a ban on assault weapons?
Imagine a scenario where some gun owners are so paranoid about the need to defend themselves that they carry concealed guns into cinemas, shopping malls, stadiums. At the slightest alarm or provocation, who is to say a nervous gun owner would not whip out his gun and start shooting at perceived attackers and hurt innocent bystanders? Imagine living in a society where people live in fear of being attacked or shot at, and have to carry a gun to protect themselves? When will this paranoia end?
|Source: The Atlantic Wire|
|Screen capture from CNN news on Channel 511 last night|
Why should this controversy over gun control be of any interest or relevance to non-US citizens? What does it matter to them whether or not Americans have the right to own military-type assault weapons?
US Department of Commerce, in 2010, 60 million international visitors traveled to the U.S., generating more than $134 billion in revenue and a $32 billion trade surplus.
The US is a great country with so much to offer visitors. We want to be able to visit the US and know that we can travel freely without fear of being gunned down, whether accidentally or intentionally.
In 2011 on my first trip to Las Vegas, one of the first things I saw at the arrival hall of McCarran airport was this giant poster of a smiling woman proudly holding a semi-automatic with the invitation to 'Try One'.
Welcome to the US - it's the wild wild west even today.