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International opinions on US gun culture

Posted on 02.06.2013

The shooting of 20 children by 20-year-old Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School has renewed the debate about gun control in the United States. The shooting has prompted a proposal for new legislation banning assault weapons and magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The Sandy Hook shooting was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, according to an article on NBC’s website. To prevent similar tragedies in the future, 100,000 people signed a petition within 15 hours of the massacre in support of a renewed national debate on gun control.

Associate Professor of History and Political Science Milind Thakar said that action is needed to prevent future incidents like Sandy Hook.

“The incident was horrifying, and this is the third or fourth time within a year and a half that this kind of mass killing has occurred,” Thakar said. “So the measures being taken to make sure this does not repeat itself are necessary.”

Thakar said that other countries, such as England and India, do not experience incidents like the Sandy Hook shooting as often as the U.S. does because guns are not readily available to civilians.

“The United States has about 270 million guns with a population of 300 million people. That is almost one gun a person. For the control of guns to be properly implemented, gun ownership has to be restricted, and a background check should be carried out to make sure the gun owners are stable,” Thakar said.

In Switzerland, Israel and Nigeria, guns are allowed but mostly used by those in the armed forces. When not being used, the guns are kept on military bases to keep them from being misused by civilians.

Nigerian alumnus Konye Ori, believes that the United States could reduce the availability of guns by destroying surplus, collected and seized firearms, rather than returning them ton the secondary arms markets.

“In Nigeria, guns are perceived as tools utilized by security personnel to manage the peace, and by criminals to undo the peace. Outside these circles, the notion of arming the citizens is a taboo. Very few people are allowed to own guns,” Ori said. “Nigeria has voluntary firearm surrender schemes and a weapon seizure program in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation.”

Ori believes that the U.S. government can control the distribution and use of guns but said the law alone will not do it. He said that community-centered organizations have to find ways to engage local people in ways that help them channel their energies and abilities into more positive things.

About 2,200 weapons used for hunting and sporting purposes are exempted from the bill proposed by California Senator Diane Feinstein regarding gun control. This is so hunters can continue hunting but only with weapons manufactured for the purpose. Sophomore business major from Saudi Arabia Haitham Bajunaid spoke of how guns are used in Saudi Arabia and how the Saudi Arabian government is approaching gun control.

“In Saudi Arabia, civilians are allowed to own long guns if they have a license for the guns, but it is a rule that the guns stay in the family compound,” Bajunaid said. “Possession of handguns is rare. And just like the United States, Saudi Arabian government is trying to control the number of assault weapons in the wrong hands.”

Bajunaid said that the U.S. government will not have an easy task to take guns off the streets, but the sooner the process starts, the better the results will be.

“Elimination of assault weapons from the streets of the United States cannot happen overnight,” Bajunaid said. “If the people help the government, it will be a faster process, and the misuse of guns will be reduced drastically.”


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