Balancing rights with responsibilities

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Folding hands while on bended knee and praying only means so much when you continue to perpetuate the situation as soon as you stand. Heather Mount via Unsplash

Does the right to handle a gun come with the responsibility of keeping society safe?

by damanpreet kaur, contributor

It was an ecstatic day when our parents used to load our trolleys with toy guns, and we would mimic shooting like we would have done in a war. Whenever we came across the toy shop in the market, my eyes would stick on the fighter guns in the shops and I would long to handle a gun. Boasting in front of my friends about the number of guns I had was fun and exciting. Even after growing up, the craze for guns never faded and social media replenished the vibe for guns further.

Posting a story with a gun in hand is cool, but it doesn’t hide the violence that it encompasses. The same violence that has made people lonely has led them into guilt, and has also pushed them into years of depression. This is something that today’s world has taken for granted. Losing someone is heartbreaking, but losing someone to gun violence is devastating. Do we really need to be okay with violence? Do we really need a gun to protect ourselves and harm other people in the name of rights? I would say no.

My heart was heavy when I heard about the mass shooting in Texas. 19 children and their teachers were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. It was not the first such incident reported, but recurring mass shootings in the US have become a carnival of violence in recent years. It would have only taken one second to pull the trigger to silence the smiles of those glad faces; the laughs on their faces would have turned to a dead, gloomy sight. It signifies a lot about the current state of law and law enforcement authorities which makes it so easy and accessible to buy guns in the United States. In Japan, the process for buying a gun requires an interview with the police about why you need a gun and a psychological evaluation followed by three different background checks, including interviews of family and neighbors. It is simply not that easy to have a licensed gun in most parts of the world. In contrast, most Americans have guns, which cast clouds on the freedom and fundamental rights of the citizens.

Who would have imagined that a semi-automatic rifle in the hands of a young boy would cause a menace in the lives of their parents and the whole community with this inhumane killing spree? Legal access to weaponry at such a young age is questionable and must be given a second thought in a country like the United States, where the Statue of Liberty is held high to celebrate freedom but not to put an ending on the liberty of others. According to Hinduism, Lord Krishna says that “killing somebody must be the last resort in life, as we are not killing a single person but all the human connections that the person has.” This signifies that with handling a gun comes the responsibility of protecting everybody. The influence of mass shootings and gun culture is contagious. These kinds of incidents have caused debate in other cultures about whether guns should be accessible to youngsters or not.

Analyzing the situation, it is clear that racism is one imperative factor behind the killings. People of colour have hearts and minds which are no different from people with white skin. Then why are people of colour killed often? Even in Canada, there have been two random killings in Toronto this year, provoking fear in the minds of people. The killer had a stash of guns which highlights the accessibility of the guns. This is an alarming and frightening situation for our generation, who must view these killings as a hurdle for a progressive society.

“Free-to-carry-a-gun” culture in the United States needs to be rectified on the grounds of fundamental rights of all people who favor peace above all. There is no benefit of modernization if we still have to rely on weapons to protect ourselves. The advances in science and technology don’t force us to make use of weapons in our daily lives. So, what do we needs guns for? Being an international student and a visible minority, I live with an unknown fear of being killed someday while buying groceries at Walmart, or waiting for a bus near the university. Do I really need to carry a gun for my self-defense?

Or, do I continue to live in this state of fear. That’s perplexing, but I have an answer. Human lives are important and they matter irrespective of age, caste, creed, race, or ethnicity. Guns do not belong in a world which wants to thrive in tranquility and peace. Everyone deserves to live freely without the fear of getting killed off in a random place by a stranger. Killing children who have no animosity, anyone at such a budding stage of life, is not acceptable. Shooting for rights? It is unacceptable.

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