Two incidents in America and India respectively have led to widespread heated discussion. The incidents I refer to are shootout in a school in the US and Gang rape in India. While both incidents are obviously isolated, yet the discussion that has ensued in respective countries has had overlapping repercussions. America questions the freedom to own firearms and probably use the incident in India to justify lesser Gun Control and on the other hand India questions should we have greater freedom of owning firearms so that incident like what we witnessed doesn’t happen. Two seemingly different incidents have common factors; both are a reflection of the Politics and Society of the respective countries and both the incidents were equally gruesome, brutal and leave us horrified, shocked and with many answerless questions.
The firearm makers’ association has long lobbied in favor of allowing greater freedom in firearm ownership. The rationale behind such a step was that a country is not free, just and democratic unless ordinary people get to choose if they intend to own firearms or not. A society cannot be just if only criminals possess firearms, albeit illegally, commit crimes with them and yet ordinary citizens can’t legally possess firearms which could help them protect themselves. The legislation was welcomed and people felt that knowing that ordinary citizen possess weapons, crime rates should come down. The argument definitely sounds logical, favorable and convincing. However what was not factored in was the chance of these firearms occasionally landing in the hands of depressed, manic and deranged individuals who were capable of doing unthinkable shocking acts. The current incident was not the first time that we had a certain individual opening fire in a public place that lead towards loss of lives of children and adults alike, however the loss of lives of 20 children and 6 adults leaves plenty of questions to be answered. Some would argue that America needs newer rules of gun control and yet some would argue that if the school teacher possessed a firearm hidden somewhere in her drawer, lot of lives could have been saved.
For all the lobbying that happens, for all the firearms that get sold and for all the occasional shootouts that happen in public places what would be of interest to see is, if ownership of firearms had a strong co-relation with crime rates? Let me provide some comparative data
As the data would show, the % of homicides due to firearms in countries with lower ownership rates is not much different than the countries with higher ownership rates. Also America is turning out to be a bad example to quote if owning of firearms has to be advocated. Homicide rate in America is the highest among the countries with high ownership. The country that comes second with respect to ownership of firearms has an almost 50% lower ownership rate and a much lower crime rate compared to America. I think the writing is definitely on the wall and America has quite a problem on hand to deal with. I am not sure if it could afford to wait till another similar incident happens before rethinking gun control; however lobbying will not make it an easy job.
Various Women welfare organizations are fighting hard to mete out capital punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crime of rape in the recent incident that happened in Delhi. Undoubtedly it is a heart wrenching, spine chilling and extremely gruesome crime that anybody could commit. The question being asked is a crime that leaves the victim dealing with a lifelong mental trauma, what would be the most appropriate and severe punishment that could be awarded to the criminals which is just and at same time exemplary enough to act as a deterrent in the future. Some argue that capital punishment is most appropriate, others would counter argue saying, the victim has to suffer all her life so an appropriate punishment should make the rapist suffer as much, and hence propose chemical castration as the right punishment. Yet there are many who suggest that existing laws or any amount rules would never act as a deterrent enough, instead we should have lesser gun control and have access to firearms. There could be no bigger deterrent than that ever and would lead to reduction in all forms of crime.
Talking about Gun control, the above graph presented could not link higher firearm ownership and lower crime rates in any definite manner. In addition another data shown in the graphs below for America again don’t show any emerging co-relation either, the decrease in incidents of rape in America was not linked with corresponding increase in ownership of firearms!
I think, the larger question that is being asked is who was responsible for such crime, police? Politicians? Society? The Victim? It is true that the Politicians don’t treat rape as a key issue of discussion as it doesn’t give them any votes and police often lack the sensitivity to deal with such issues. I think the problem is with our Society at large and the views of Police and Politicians are only a reflection of the society they represent. I indicated in an earlier blog post that whenever such incidents happen the society has to take collective responsibility. Yes there are widespread protests, there are demands for capital punishment, and there are talks about ostracizing the perpetrators. However for a society where women can’t wear what she wants, can’t get married to who she wants to, can’t chose career as per her interest and a society where even birth of a girl child is at the mercy of the males, in such a society such protests appear farcical. Rape is an instance of a disrespectful male that doesn’t think much about women liberty or freedom. The society that has so vociferously condemned the current crime would not blink to say that women should dress appropriately or should not stay out till late night or should have been married off in her teens. We are all equally responsible for what has happened we are all answerable to the lady struggling for her life and to her family and to all such victims. It is unfortunate but a society gets the police, politicians and crime it deserves.