By Shruti Kesavan:
“People killing, people dying
Children hurt and even crying
Can you practice what you preach
Or would you turn the other cheek
Father, father, father, help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questioning
Where is the love?”
These famous lyrics of the band Black Eyed Peas from their song ‘Where is the love?’ aptly describe my emotions with respect to the rising gun culture in the United States. We may be from different borders or even cultures but when a life is nipped off brutally, one is left wondering if we are heading in the right direction. More so if that life is an innocent six-year-old who is cruelly killed, shot in the head a multiple number of times, our emotions don’t vary. The recent shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th 2012, in Newtown Connecticut was one such incident. That day was like any other day, when parents left their kids in the safe hands of the school, wishing them a wonderful day. There was just one thing that did not fit this fairy tale; these kids were never going to see their parents again. Never again would these parents be complaining about how these children don’t finish their cereal or their homework.
The day was a normal one until Adam Lanza decided to take things into his hands, when he walked into the school and shot every soul that crossed his sight. He began his shooting spree by shooting his mother Nancy Lanza in their Newtown home and then drove off with his mother’s collection of rifles only deciding to write off the lives of twenty innocent, fragile, helpless children and their six teachers while leaving two others wounded. Not only did he walk around shooting mercilessly but also shot each child multiple times. He then turned the gun on to himself when he saw the police approaching him, some eye witnesses stated.
This was the second deadliest school shooting in the U.S after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. Seung Hui Cho, a South Korean, who was a former senior level undergraduate student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute shot 32 people and wounded 17 people. This is by far considered to be the most deadliest and gruesome of all shootings in the U.S. This incident took place on January 18th, 2007.
Some of the other case studies which describe the gun culture in America are briefly mentioned below. They will not only shock you but will also bring into light a very important issue of the increasing affinity of people with guns and how it is affecting millions of simple lives.
The Bath School disaster which occurred on May 18th 1927 in Michigan was one the most gruesome of incidents. Andrew Kehoe killed 38 elementary school children and 6 adults and also injured 58 others before committing suicide. The final explosion was when he pressed the detonator attached to him. This has been the deadliest mass murder in U.S history sharply followed by the Sandy Hook shooting. The reason for him turning into a fiend was because of his defeat in the 1926 township clerk elections.
The Binghamton shooting was carried out by Jiverly Voong, a neutralized American citizen from Vietnam when he entered into the facility where he was previously taking English classes. This incident occurred on April 3rd 2008 where 13 were left killed including his former teacher and classmates and he also wounded four people in the process.
The Ford Hood incident happened on November 5th 2009 where a single gunman, Nidal Mali Hasan, a 39-year-old serving as a physician in the base mercilessly killed 13 people and wounded 29 others. This incident took place in the U.S military base and was the worst shooting inside the same.
The California State University Fullerton massacre took place on 12th of July in 1976 where the librarian of the University decided to spread havoc and bloodshed. Edward Charles the custodian of the library not only killed 7 students and co-workers but also wounded many others. He was armed with a semi-automatic rifle which he had purchased for Buena Park Kmart. He was then charged for one count of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder.
The incidents mentioned above bring into light a very important cultural gap which needs to be mended, which is the U.S gun culture. America has always held affections for firearms. This is something they have possessed from the very beginning, be it to protect themselves from the Native Americans and animals in the past or simply to protect themselves now. There are currently 300 million guns in circulation in America which can get into the hands of the mentally unfit resulting in incidents as these.
The year 2010 saw 358 deaths revolving the rifles in the U.S, and 6009 deaths involving the usage of pistols which also included suicides. Some of the high profile shootings were of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King to name a few.
Coming back to the Sandy Hook shootings, the shooting went on for 15 minutes and the guns the perpetrator had would certainly shock you. He had a .233 calibre Bushmaster XM- 15 rifle, 10mm Gluck 20SF handgun, 9mm SIG Sauer handgun, a .30 Enfield rifle, .22 Martin and a .45 Henry. Out of these the last three were left at home. Ever wondered how he got so many rifles and shotguns? Ironically his mother was a gun enthusiast. Even though Adam Lanza was old enough to carry a long gun (through which most of the shootings took place) he was too young to carry handguns. This only brings us to question the second amendment which has to do with the possessions of firearms. The primary reason why people in the U.S possess guns is for their safety but now it’s more about harming others than protecting yourself.
Adam was said to be suffering from Asperger’s syndrome which is a sort of autism. Should the law be more stringent about whom it is providing the rifles to or should rifles be provided to the common crowd at all? After all if we take the law into our hands or even begin protecting ourselves, why do we need the police in the first place?