Monday May 20, 2019

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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“Visit Strengthens Further Internal Cohesion and Unity”: Pope Francis Meets Leaders of North Macedonia

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to "sow these seeds" of solidarity.

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowds in Skopje on May 7. RFERL

Pope Francis, who is on a historic first trip to North Macedonia, has met with the country’s leadership and held Mass in the main square of the capital, Skopje.

Francis was welcomed by the outgoing president, Gjorge Ivanov, and other government officials.

He has sought to encourage the country’s drive toward integration into the EU and NATO after its name change resolved a decades-long dispute with Greece last year.

Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian.

But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. North Macedonia is home to an estimated 15,000 Catholics.

In meetings with Ivanov and with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace, Francis praised North Macedonia’s multiethnic and multifaith culture, calling it an example of peaceful coexistence and a bridge between East and West.

“These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe,” he said.

Christian
Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian. VOA

“It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.”

In his speech, President Ivanov complained about delays in accepting Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic family.

“You come at a time when [North] Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the [North] Macedonian [nation] is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community,” he said.

Viktor Dimovski, state secretary of North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry, told the media on May 6 that the pope’s historic visit comes at a crucial moment as the country seeks entry into the European Union and NATO.

“The pope’s visit strengthens further internal cohesion and unity, and brings messages of reconciliation and solidarity,” he said.

The pope’s visit also included a prayer at the memorial of North Macedonia’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa, who was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in Skopje when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Francis was surrounded by Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial. Mother Teresa was canonized by Francis in 2016.

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to “sow these seeds” of solidarity.

“Living together is not always easy, we know that,” the pope said in a video message. “But it’s worth struggling toward, because the most beautiful mosaics are the ones that are richest in colors.”

muslims
But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. Pixabay

With the name dispute with Greece now resolved, North Macedonia, which has been an EU aspirant since 2005, hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. Skopje also expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of the year.

Also Read: Puppeteers Bring Message of Harmony, Love, Tolerance in Pakistan’s Karachi

Stevo Pendarovski, who was elected president in a runoff election on May 5, said he saw his victory as a “ticket for NATO and EU.”

Six Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia — are in various stages of the accession process to join the EU. (RFERL)