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Tackling Gun Control in the USA

Just a single week after the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Giffords at an Arizona shopping mall, thousands of US citizens attended an annual gun show in Tuscon yesterday. Despite the incredible levels of feeling and emotion that the incident has prompted nationwide, the two day event has attracted a staggering 7000 attendees, which is a noticeable increase on the number of citizens who visited in the previous year. Of course, both the timing and nature of the event have raised several questions about gun control and the use of firearms within the USA.
The debate is a longstanding and emotionally fraught one, as the subject of firearms and their usage becomes ever more pertinent in a violent and desensitized culture. Critics have questioned the validity of gun control and regulatory legislation affiliated to firearm ownership, and have been quick to cite the Arizona shootings as supportive evidence. Of course, gun enthusiasts take a different view, and are quick to assert that firearm related violence is a wider issue of contemporary society and alternative negative influences.

Gun Control in Contemporary Society
 If assessing the arguments objectively, it is hard to disagree with gun enthusiasts within the US. Gun control and supportive legislation has been assessed and evaluated regularly over the last decade, as federal government has attempted to regulate their levels of control over the types of guns viable and the status of registered owners. Given that law enforcement bodies were also at the Tuscan event monitoring specific sales and purchasers, it appears that those responsible for the safety of US citizens are continuing to do all they can with regards to firearms.

Therefore, if it is an accepted feature of contemporary US society that citizens can own and operate firearms, then any violence related issues are the fault of the individual owners rather than specific legislation. There is little point in moderating the availability of guns if those that can procure them are not trained or equipped to use them responsibly, and even less in a society that is not only desensitized to acts of violence but actively encourages it through media and interactive game play.

This is the core argument of gun enthusiasts, chiefly that guns are merely props and tools that are at the mercy of those who operate them. Taking this opinion on board, it would be following logic to assume that the challenge facing the government is not necessarily to regulate the level of gun control, but more to tackle the behaviour of firearm owners and their comprehension of the responsibility involved in buying and owning a weapon. This is a much wider and far reaching social issue, and one that requires a more in depth assessment of modern cultural values.

Regulating People and Not Guns
If assessing the misuse of guns as a social issue, it is important to understand their purpose in civilized society. In the US, they should be procured and operated purely as a safety measure, and are intended as a tool with which to defend a family and property from the threat of invasion. This means that there should be no need for more than a single firearm per household, and also that it should have no need to leave a residential or commercial property. In theory, this would mean that a gun would simply act as a deterrent to criminals from entering a building illegally.

The issue is not with this principle, but more with the cultural factors which influence the behaviour of gun owners. It is fine to ascertain that firearms should not leave a premises and be employed only as a safety tool, but this does not take into consideration the elements of society which both encourage and glamorize the ownership of guns. For example, while guidance can be sought on how and when to operate guns, the current generation of young adults have been taught a completely opposing lesson by the use of violent video games and widespread media reporting of mass killing and warfare.

It is hard to balance the two, especially given a decreasing level of sensitivity to violence and the devastating effects that firearms can have. The problem remains that violent video games are played by a significant number of US citizens aged 7 and upwards, and that children of this age are most receptive to their environment and learning. They are then not faced with owning a real firearm and subsequent legislation until they enter adulthood, by which times it is far harder to modify their behaviour and attitude towards the consequences of weaponry.

Modifying the Attitude Towards Firearms
 It is important to understand that with or without stringent gun control, there will always remain illegally sourced weaponry in the US and subsequent instances of explosive and tragic misuse. While this a sad inevitability of any civilization, federal government do have an opportunity to assess the the next generation of potential gun owners and develop methods of teaching responsible and educated firearm usage. By supporting their legislation with well conceived method of teaching responsibility and a more rigid censorship of video games and violent media outlets, then it is possible to create a safer and far less violent society.


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Navaid I. Syed is the owner and CEO of / ExcitingAds! Inc. He is a medical doctor and was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan, on July 31, 1964. He graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan, in 1990. He is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA, USA, certified.

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