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Weekly Digest #94
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In this digest-
1. Article- Gun Control in the US: A school of thought
2. Happiness Quotient From Around The World
3. Did You Know?
4. Entertainment Quotient
Gun control in the US- A school of thought
By: Abhimanyu Rao
Gun violence has been a prevailing issue in the United States for several years. Issues of mass shootings are seen regularly in the news, and it is devastating to see the death toll that keeps on rising with every shooting that takes place.
Throughout all of this, there have been several controversies regarding the United States’ policy on gun possession, and its effect on the prevalence of shootings in the country. Today, I will look at the issue of gun violence, the reasons for its repeated occurence, and how to prevent it.
I will be focussing specifically on the US, since that is where the issue is the most prominent. I will focus on the responsibility of the government in the issue, since that is one of the most heated debates that has shaken the world.
I will also interpolate some major school shootings into this, to judge the impact that they had on the gun policies of the country. The reason I am focusing on school shootings in particular is because of the devastating impact they have had in the country, as well as the major impact that they have regularly had on the policies on gun violence.
What is gun violence?
This is pretty straightforward, but I’ll explain it anyway. Acts of Gun Violence are acts where someone, or a group of people shoot several people in one place. The most major incidents occur in public places, and most famously, in schools. Sometimes, these incidents garner major media attention, and reignite the debate on the policy for gun possession.
Policy for gun possession?
The Second Amendment of the United States constitution gives all Americans the right to bear arms. This means that all Americans can carry guns as and when they please. There are some minor restrictions, including some specific places where carrying guns is illegal, but in general, it is legal to carry guns wherever you want to. This has been an inalienable right of the American people for several years now, and several attempts to change it have been consistently overruled.
Major Gun Violence Incidents.
1.Columbine School Shooting- On the 20th of April 1999, two students from Columbine High School, on aged 18, and the other aged 17, entered the school with a myriad of bombs and guns. They proceeded to take the lives of one teacher and 12 students, and wounding 21 others, all in only 20 minutes.
The only way the massacre ended was when both the shooters killed themselves. This attack was considered one of the deadliest and most devastating school shootings in all of history, and changed several things about the response to school shootings.
The police were extensively criticised for their dreadfully delayed response to the shooting. While they reached the school in time, and the shooting had ended, they declared that the area was unsafe, and waited for many hours before entering the school, thus wasting crucial time. In this crucial time, many wounded students bled to death, increasing the death toll of the horrifying attack. This attack, however, became a warning sign for schools, and several schools hired private security, and installed metal detectors in the school.
2.Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting- On 14th December 2012, 20 year old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, and then, with many more guns, along with a whole lot of ammunition, he drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School, broke in, and began shooting. He was originally apprehended by the principal and the school psychologist, both of whom he fatally shot. However, the gunshots got the school on lockdown protocol, which ended up saving countless lives later on.
One standout moment from the incident was when a teacher, Ms. Soto, tried to trick Adam Lanza into going to the other end of the school, in order to save the life of her students. Unfortunately, she failed to convince him, however, no one knows, stalling him may have saved many lives that could have been lost. The shooting ended when Lanza shot himself, and died on the spot.
This shooting was devastating, and famously, was the incident that made erstwhile President Barack Obama cry while he spoke about it. He spoke about the need to reform the gun control measured of the country, and declared that the memory of the 20 children murdered by Adam Lanza demanded it. Many hoped that this marked the dawn of a new era in American history, one where the access to guns was limited and controlled, and every day wasn’t a threat to all lives…
Unfortunately, their hopes were crushed… thrice over! The first time was when Senator Dianne Feinstien introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 bill. This bill proposed a ban on around 150 different models of guns, along with a ban on the sale of magazines that held more than 10 rounds. This bill was unfortunately defeated in a 60-40 minority, when voted for in the Senate.
This was followed by the Manchin-Toomey proposal. This bill made criminal background checks mandatory for anyone who wished to buy a gun on the internet, or at a gun shows. This bill was monumental, because it was a partnership between Democratic Senator Manchin, and Republican Senator Toomey. The tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting had brought together people from two parties that are famously polar opposites, not to mention, rivals! Regrettably, this nigh impossible partnership wasn’t enough to give the bill the support it needed, and while it got a 54-46 majority, the agreed threshold of 60 wasn’t met, so the bill could not be passed.
Another bill, aimed at putting a stop to the sale of large magazines- ones that held more than 10 rounds, faced a similar fate to its predecessor, and couldn’t reach the 60 vote threshold it required. The deeply saddening part about this failure is how important a measure as small as this could have been. Firstly, it could have been the stepping stone to greater actions being taken, but that isn’t all. This bill could have saved more lives than it let on. Eleven children in the Sandy Hook shooting were able to get away to safety because Adam Lanza was busy reloading his weapon. However, apart from attempts made by Senators, there was no more action being taken to increase the restriction on the sale of firearms.
The Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organisation founded by the families of some of the victims of the shooting. They focused on campaigning for a reform in gun legislation, as well as mental health programs. They had preventative programs to ensure that shootings, as well as several campaigns for motions to increase criminal background checks, ban the sales of high capacity magazines, and many more policies.
3. Uvalde Elementary School Shooting- Late in the morning of the 24th of May, 2022, Salvador Ramos, who had recently turned 18, crashed his car outside the local elementary school. He exits his car, brand new gun in hand. After a while of shooting at the school from the outside, he begins shooting. The shooting goes on for a while, ending with multiple police officers shooting the gunman down.
(Photo Credit- The Hindu)
With a death toll of 21, including 19 children, this is considered one of the deadliest shootings in history. This once again, sparked a debate about gun control, which, unfortunately, wasn’t successful enough to make a major change. The good news is that people are once again up in arms about the sorry state of gun control in the United States.
As the people become more vocal, the government becomes more compelled to listen, and to try and make a change. Some say that a change is impossible, but as long as there is some effort, it is a step in the right direction.
HAPPINESS QUOTIENT FROM AROUND THE WORLD
DID YOU KNOW?
By: Mihir Rao
Entertainment quotient for the week:
Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness
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