Within the short space of a few weeks, the nation has witnessed two separate instances involving a lone gunman who has taken innocent lives using that implement of death that has become so ubiquitous in our nation, the gun. Each of these horrific instances took place in different settings - one occurred at a movie theatre in Colorado during the showing of the latest Batman movie and the other took place at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin while individuals in attendance were involved in worship. Although the apparent motives of the killers involved were uniquely different, the fact that both men were seriously mentally deranged is quite clear.
Although it may serve some cathartic purpose to level all the communal anger and frustration at the killers, it does little to address the underlying societal malaise. Any human society will necessarily have members who, for whatever reason, are so mentally unstable that within the fever of their own misguided and distorted thinking they see the need to exact punishment on others. The larger question, however, needs to be addressed – How are such individuals able to procure such deadly weapons?
The answer to this question is quite obvious and it lies within the purview of national policy. A rational society would place reasonable restrictions and limitations on the ability of ordinary citizens to obtain firearms. Most nations attempt to do just that. In the United States, however, reasoned judgment has been held hostage by the extraordinary economic and political clout of the National Rifle Association (NRA) – an organization that has managed to turn gun control into a so-called, "hot button" social issue. The NRA is backed by corporate interests that actually make huge profits in the selling of firearms not only domestically but around the world.
In addition, there has been a disturbing trend in many states, Arizona and Florida for example, where legislation has been passed that liberalizes even further the "right" to bear arms to the remarkable extreme that gun owners have been given the legal authority to shoot individuals who they feel is a threat to their safety whether or not such a threat actually exists. This represents a very disturbing trend in social development – a culture in which an overwhelming majority of citizens feel the need to possess and bear arms does not suggest a productive and viable future.
Given the long history of this nature's apparent affinity towards violence and barbarism as the recent anniversary of the horrific atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suggests, it is possible that the current trend is essentially irreversible. In my estimation, our proclivity towards addressing vexing problems through the application of violence as an integral part of our foreign policy is inseparable from the readily apparent trends in the ways we have come to relate to one another in the life of the nation. If this is so, we can anticipate an unpalatable future; unless, we collectively begin to apply sound and reasonable judgment to the problems we face in the present.
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