President Barack Obama and myriad other leaders like him have been charged with the acrid accusation of dabbling in deft ‘Optics’ when dealing with questions of national importance and defining developments. In the American context, the contemporary challenge of gun related carnage has convoluted the cultural croissants in United States. America is a nation that prides itself with the iconography of the order of Mt Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the hilltop Hollywood insignia.
The recent carnage in Oregon which smashed innocent lives, is, not at all a matter concerning optics but revolves around the core question of the survivability and the fungibility of the effervescent ‘American Dream’. President Obama recently spoke rivetingly: “We have to make a credible political choice. When Americans are killed in a mine disaster, we work to make mines safer. When Americans perish in hurricanes, we strengthen the communities but the notion that gun violence is different is rather questionable.” The idea that Americans love freedom and the sanctity of the constitution to resist gun control regulations, sometimes makes derelicts and mentally challenged deliquescent take law unto their own hands.
Police apathy too adds to the incidents when fake gun violators are mistreated or race transgressions are allegedly committed by the authorities. As a stark reminder, an American agency, Gun Violence Archive Mass Shooting Tracker, informs us that there have been 294 mass shootings in 274 days since January 1, 2015. Since the same time frame, 9,957 people have perished, including children killed and injured amounting to 551. The need of the hour is a stolid and staunch gun control regulation as the American President has declared in disgust in the recent past.
The gun control debate has raised storms and fury since the incidents of grisly gun running and mass shootings started denting the munificence of the American Dream. Several lawyers’ lobbies have fought vitriolic battles amidst the frenzy of a large iota of fund raising by both the pro-gun and the anti-gun lobby, though the gun lobby is avidly supported by the corporate and the mainstream funders.
The gun lobby is avidly propagated by the cinematic personages of the order of Charleston Heston, who make for the ‘masculine’and ‘militia visage’ of the American way of life, all earmarked with the stereotypical mid-west, Rodeo and the quintessential cowboy. The story might not seem Indian, but akin to the myriad societal evils which vitiate any nation’s health. Fact is, gun violence and gun running is a tiresome menace in the United States.
The free holding of guns in a society might not be what the doctor ordered, when the American denizens are blessed with the racy, jaguars carrying street smart cops, who are clinically observant about a little sleight of hand and a rustle of aleaf. Still, the commoner feels insecure and owns guns. The lawmakers along with President Obama, have raised concerns about the procedure which is ideally followed leading to the purchase of a gun. Gun buyers are ordinarily not exposed to undergo security checks and psychological-medical scrutiny which is what President Obama has expressed the need for. Some very strict background checks have to become the order of the day if the security and the well being of the American denizens have to be rightfully ascertained. A major drive for gun control was blocked in the US senate on April 13, 2013.
In June 2015, American Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, expressed interest in reviving the legislation. It is a new and bipartisan initiative, which could do wonders for the sordid state of affairs in the aftermath of the shootings in Oklahoma, Charleston and South Carolina and even at the premier of the Hollywood movie, Batman. It is something grave and dehumanising of the order of what happened at Waco, Texas, years ago.
The American Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, too has declared a vision to initiate tighter gun control measures, wherein she has declared that as the White House occupant, she will be utilising her executive powers, too in the face of the gravity of a dangerous situation. In the wake of the Oregon community college nightmare, which ended the lives of a few teachers and students, measures such as monitoring the liability of gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers, are the need of the hour. The entire narrative of gun violence has nothing to do about an aggressively capitalist society nearing capitulation or an avowed and over developed military instinct, but, the uncontrolled societal frictions and singularly individual rage, which are part of the larger matrix of the problem.
In an advertorial poster, the displayed data is striking and hurtful. The poster showcases that handguns terminated 48 people in Japan, eight in Great Britain, 58 in Israel and 10,728 in the United States. The poster’s lower section bears a picture of a handgun painted in the American stars and stripes with the slogan, “God Bless America” printed at the end.