Friday, June 2, 2023

Powerful but powerless

America (USA) is the most powerful military power on earth and for which it spends in excess of $700 billion every year. America has lakhs of military personnel based at military stations located across the world to ensure global peace, freedom and democracy. However, at home, the world’s most powerful nation is helpless in protecting the lives and properties of its own citizens. In America lives are being lost at an approximate rate of over 100 per day due to shootings. As of May 1, at least 14,600 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive – which is an average of roughly 115 deaths each day. Of those who died, 491 were teens and 85 were children. According to the latest available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2021 than in any other year on record.In 2021, there were more than 48,000 gun deaths in the U.S., a 23% increase from 2019. This is the highest number of gun deaths in the U.S. since the CDC began tracking gun deaths in 1968. The easy availability of guns is a major factor in the high rate of gun violence in the U.S. The U.S. has more guns per capita than any other country in the world. In 2018, there were an estimated 120.5 guns per 100 people in the U.S., compared to an average of 12.6 guns per 100 people among other developed countries. The majority of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. In 2021, there were 26,328 gun suicides, accounting for 54% of all gun deaths. Gun homicides accounted for 43% of gun deaths, and accidental gun deaths accounted for 5%.Shootings have continuously made headlines in just the first few months of the year. These incidents have revived a decades-long nationwide debate over the issue of gun control in America. Pitted against each other are pro-gun control and the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA)which has successfully opposed gun control in the USA. Those who want the state to exert control over sale and possession of handguns in America believe that strict control will limit handguns in the hands of people. The NRA and its supporters on the other hand, believe that purchase and possession of hand guns is a fundamental right that cannot be denied. The NRA stands on the plea that safety lay in imparting training on handling and use of hand guns and that possessing it was insurance against criminals. The problem is that lax gun controls has saturated American society with a plethora of guns. Further, despite the measures to monitor sale of hand guns, many gun shops sell items over the counter like selling medicines without prescription. Even the measure aimed at penalising such defaulting gun shops is being strongly opposed by the powerful NRA lobby. Several investigations have shown that the NRA has close links with multibillion-dollar firearms industry in the US. Thus, a powerful nation is totally powerless to protect its own citizens and this is like comeuppance.

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