Monday February 24, 2020

Why are Americans so fond of their ‘Gun’ culture?

Out 321 million people in USA over 200 million own a legal weapon and there are 88 percent firearms per 100 people in America

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Representational Image People looking for guns in America. (Representational Image). Image source: Wikipedia
  • Gun culture in America is present from the time of American Revolution
  • American constitution allows all its citizens to own and carry a gun
  • US is home to roughly 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns

America has always taken pride in its gun culture. Guns have been a part of American culture since time immemorial. Guns were used as a means to hunt for food and make money through the fur market, protection from natives and dealing with large predators also required the use of gun.

Guns played a huge part in the American Revolution against the British solider and their freedom. In 1776, when USA gained independence, Americans were allowed to own and use the firearms to keep to protect their newly independent nation from the tyrannical rule of the ‘old world’ and this right became the basis for the second amendment in American constitution.

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Second Amendment

Every law-abiding citizen in the United States is allowed to own or carry a gun. That right comes from the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It says: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Ease of ownership

To purchase a gun in the majority of states, a person needs to be of age, pass the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check and fill out a firearms transaction record.

However, background checks are not currently required for private sales, including those conducted at gun shows. Certain people are banned from owning weapons, including convicted criminals, people with mental health illnesses or non-U.S. citizens. But the system has major holes in it.

Availability of ammunition is very high in U.S. Anybody can easily walk-up to a gun shop or supermarkets where ammunition is sold like chocolate boxes and buy it. Any person can buy any amount of ammunition, which will surely look scary to many. Even some banks provide their account holders with a gun on opening a particular type of account.

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The Debate

While many believe that right to own and use a gun is important and people should be able to defend and protect themselves. But it is hard ignore the fact that many people are killed because of guns.

A image captured at Columbine high school.Source: Wikipedia
A image captured at Columbine high school. Image Source: Wikipedia

Like in the case of 1999 Columbine High School massacre,  in which 2 high school boys killed 12 students and one teacher. They injured 21 people and 3 more were injured while trying to escape the school. Other than shooting, 2 boys had also planted bombs in cafeteria where the whole thing went down. The pair committed suicide afterwards. This school shooting is considered as the America’s deadliest high school shooting.  After columbine America has also seen 59 more school/university shooting which has occurred due to easy availability of guns and ammunitions.

According to BBC, on an average over 35 people were killed every day because of gun violence in 2015. Out 321 million people in USA over 200 million own a legal weapon and there are 88% firearms per 100 people in America.

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In 2015 alone US has witnessed-

  • 375 mass shooting in which 450 were killed and over 1000 people were wounded
  • 64 school shootings
  • All shooting concluded a total 13,286 people getting killed and 26,819 got injured which is more than 12,570 in 2014

U.S. reality

The debate on guns is a daily topic in USA. But regardless of where one falls, the fact remains that U.S. gun ownership is exceptionally high and growing. According to the Small Arms Survey, the United States has an average of 116 guns per 100 people, although most of those weapons are owned by a minority of citizens.

The National Rifle Association is a non- profit, pro-gun, lobbying group. Their sole purpose is protection of second amendment. NRA is widely known as the pro-gun organizations and is the public face of the pro-gun movement. They are also one of the reasons as to why America has no strict gun law.

The United States is home to roughly 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, even though it holds less than 5 percent of the world’s population.

-prepared by Bhaskar Raghavendran (with inputs from VOA), a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter:  bhaskar_ragha

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U.S President Donald Trump Likely to Announce Sales Worth Billions During Visit to India

In India, Trump Hopes for Crowds of Millions, Sales Worth Billions

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Donald Trump
Children from an art school make paintings of U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of his India visit, in Mumbai, India. VOA

By Steve Herman

U.S. President Donald Trump departed for India Sunday on a 36-hour trip, having acknowledged he will not be returning home with an anticipated big trade deal.

“I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” Trump told reporters last week. “I don’t know if it’ll be done before the election, but we’ll have a very big deal with India.”

There is mutual agreement on dozens of elements for the pact, but several contentious sectors are unresolved, including medical devices, according to sources close to the talks.

“Whether or not there will be an announcement on a trade package is, really, wholly dependent upon what the Indians are prepared to do,” a senior administration official told reporters Friday. “That said, we have a number of significant commercial deals, which are of great significance that we’re very pleased to announce in a number of key sectors.”

First trip to India

On his maiden voyage to the South Asian country, Trump is likely to announce a sale worth several billion dollars for military helicopters and, possibly, a missile defense system, amid rising mutual concern about China’s military expansion, which has prompted closer defense cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump waves to supporters upon his arrival in Colorado Springs, Colorado. VOA

Indian officials are said to be perplexed that U.S. officials halted trade negotiations just before the Trump visit, expressing a view that Washington pursued brinksmanship that failed in the face of a more patient India, which is the world’s fifth biggest economy.

“There’s no great hurry here” to finalize a trade pact, retired veteran senior Indian diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan in India told VOA.

“I was personally a little bit surprised that the two sides weren’t able to get this deal done,” Jeff Smith, South Asia research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said.

Promised a crowd

The president, at a political rally Thursday, said the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told him he will be greeted by up to 10 million people when Air Force One lands in Modi’s home state of Gujarat Monday morning.

“That’s simply not possible. Even 1 million is difficult,” said Sreenivasan, who added that among Indians, “nobody will bother about numbers” and even if Trump claims he was hailed by millions, “that’s not likely to be an issue of contention.”

Indian officials, quoted by local media, predict a more modest crowd of about 100,000 to 150,000 (plus 12,000 police officers) when the president arrives for the dedication of the world’s largest cricket stadium — part of an event billed as “Namaste, Trump.”

“Some people say” the visit to Gujarat will be the “biggest event they’ve ever had in India,” Trump said before departing Sunday.

Pre-trip beautification effort

A small army of workers has been deployed ahead of Trump’s visit to Ahmedabad to build a 400-meter-long wall along the motorcade route to block the view of where poor people live. The hurried beautification project also includes the placement of about 150,000 flowerpots.

“It will be similar to the landmark ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event hosted by the Indian American community in honor of Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Houston in September 2019, in which President Trump participated,” India’s foreign secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, told reporters in the capital, New Delhi.

“The visit will primarily be one for pomp, show and symbolism,” said Aparna Pande, the director of the Hudson Institute Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia. “It matters to two nationalist populist leaders that they can demonstrate to their domestic audience and to the world that they have a reliable partner and ally.”

After the stadium event in Ahmedabad and before heading to New Delhi, the president and first lady Melania Trump will make a quick visit to the country’s most famous tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal.

Indian media reported Agra will be on lockdown for the visit, although there is concern about controlling the menacing monkeys roaming the grounds of the 17th century Mughal marble mausoleum.

“The forest department has been requested to ensure that the monkeys stay away from the Taj during Donald Trump’s visit,” Archaeological Survey of India Superintending Archaeologist Vasant Kumar Swarnkar was quoted telling India Today.

Bilateral talks

In India’s capital, bilateral talks are to focus on contemporary concerns.

Indian officials could raise Trump’s hard line on immigration.

“They view the immigration issue, whether it is offering visas to students or the H-1B highly skilled visas or the green card issue, as becoming worse in the last four years,” Pande told VOA.

It is uncertain whether Trump will discuss the issue of Kashmir.

Six months after Modi ended Kashmir’s special status under India’s constitution, local politicians there remain detained and internet service is restricted.

Trump “is not always very thoughtful when he talks about such issues, particularly Kashmir. So that’s a bee in his bonnet and it’s going to come up in some form,” Sreenivasan, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, predicted.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for Trump to help resolve the dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbors over Kashmir, something the U.S. president has previously indicated he is willing to do. But Modi has strongly rebuffed offers from third parties to mediate.

Indian officials are apprehensive about Trump commenting on the Kashmir issue during the visit.

Donald Trump Security Force personnel patrol at the historic Taj Mahal premises in Agra
Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel patrol at the historic Taj Mahal premises, where U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are expected to visit, in Agra, India. VOA

“He might say that ‘I’m a great dealmaker and I can resolve Kashmir.’ But let’s hope he doesn’t,” Pande, of the Hudson Institute, said.

Controversial citizenship bill

Some members of the U.S. Congress are also expressing concern about Modi’s controversial move to give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries — unless they are Muslims.

Trump, during the India visit, will raise such matters, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is “extremely important to this administration,” according to a senior administration official.

“Attempts to lecture, coerce, punish, intervene in India’s affairs have traditionally not been particularly effective,” Smith, of the Heritage Foundation, said.

Trump will be the fourth consecutive U.S. president to travel to India, continuing the shift in allegiance by Washington to Delhi from India’s archrival and neighbor.

Khan, after a recent meeting with Trump during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said the U.S. president also promised to visit Pakistan soon.

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If “there is no complementary visit to Pakistan or no side agreement on some other way to assuage concerns there, then I think Pakistan will take it as a slight,” said Richard Russow, senior adviser for U.S.-India policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (VOA)