Monday August 20, 2018

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
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  • 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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    Regarding gun problems in America a teenager has developed a mechanism which would stop arm deaths in America. He had used a sensor technology to curb the problem.

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Students Get Amazon Alexa – Electronic Voice-Controlled Assistants in University Campus Housing

It is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

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The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA
The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA

One American university is putting Amazon-electronic voice-controlled assistants in every student housing room on campus.

Saint Louis University recently announced it will equip every student living space with Amazon’s Alexa system. The school in St. Louis, Missouri, will place about 2,300 Echo Dot “smart” devices in all student dorms and other university housing.

Officials said the university will be the first in the world to put the devices in every student living space. The devices and the Alexa service are being provided at no costs to students.

The Amazon Echo is a speaker with the ability to listen and “talk” to users and can perform some operations. The Alexa assistant competes with similar systems made by Google and Apple.

Devices linked to the systems have become increasingly popular in homes in recent years. They can be used for things like looking up information, playing music, ordering food or buying things on the internet. The devices can also complete actions in the home. These include turning lights on and off, and controlling systems for heating and cooling and security.

Amazon calls these different tasks Alexa can perform “skills.”

Amazon said in a website post that Saint Louis University chose the Alexa system after carrying out a test program. The program involved the Echo Dot and a device from a competing company. It said the students had a better reaction to the Alexa system.

The Echo Dots will include a special skill developed especially for Saint Louis University. It will provide information and answer questions about local school activities and campus life.

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In this March 2, 2016, file photo, David Limp, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices, pushes down on an Echo Dot in San Francisco. VOA

Next year, the university plans to add more personalized skills, such as providing information about classes and grades.

The university said it did not increase student tuition to pay for the project. Instead, officials said, it was financed through the school’s general fund, as well as partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered. The company, based in Los Angeles, California, helped develop the parts of the system that are related to Saint Louis University.

David Hakanson is Saint Louis University’s vice president and chief information officer. In announcing the project, he said it will fit well with students who are “highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom.”

He added: “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on what matters most: their education.”

While the devices are being placed in every university housing space, students do not have to use them. For those wishing not to take part, the school suggests students just remove the devices from their rooms and put them away in a safe place.

Other universities have also experimented with voice-controlled assistants in student living areas.

A year ago, Arizona State University announced a program that provided Echo Dot devices to a special housing area for engineering students. In the program, all engineering students moving into the special housing community were given the choice of receiving an Echo Dot if they wanted one.

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Bhavik Patel, a mechanical engineering senior and peer mentor at Arizona State’s community housing center Tooker House, demonstrates use of an Amazon Echo Dot while working on formulas. VOA

As is the case at Saint Louis University, Arizona State students are able to use the system to get the latest information on university programs and events. However, the Arizona students also have the chance to sign up for classes that teach subjects related specifically to creating new uses for Alexa devices.

Octavio Heredia is a director with Arizona State’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said he thinks it is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

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“Once they are familiar with the devices, they are going to want to further develop their own skills and begin integrating that technology – the hardware and the skills – into other projects,” he said. (VOA)