Politicians often have a reputation of not turning words to actions. But President Obama has been true to the promise he made in December when he called on the US Congress to strengthen what has been pointed out as “America’s lax and permissive laws on gun control”.

The list of suggestions Obama made include a renewed ban on military-style assault weapons, a limit to the number of bullets in ammunition clips, the introduction of universal background checks for all gun purchases, a tighter watch on mental health patients’ access to weapons, and incentives for US states to share records in an attempt to curb gun trafficking.

Indeed, the world just got to hear things that American Presidents skipped talking about, let alone legislating, in the past 20 years.

The fact that Obama raised this issue only after the election does not detract from the credit he deserves for bringing up this bill.

It should be noted that the kind of political outcry that we saw with December’s Connecticut shootings was missing in the aftermath of the shooting spree in Colarado in July, though the issues highlighted were the same in both cases.

Political correctness is also a matter of time and Obama knows it well.

According to studies, it is likely that more number of civilians died in the US due to firearms-related incidents than in war-torn Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Hindu notes that in 2010, at least 16 of every 1,00,000 residents of the District of Columbia were killed in a firearms murder; in Afghanistan, UN data shows, the civilian fatality rate was 7.90 per 1,00,000.

Even then, the gun lobby and a wide section of the American public are not largely in favour of gun control, which makes Obama’s recent proposals to Congress almost a politically impossible project.

The argument that “more guns leads to less crimes” which has got no rational or statistical evidence to rely upon needs to exposed before the public.

Until the public pledges not to resort to violence, there is no end to this menace.

As George Bush once remarked, guns do not kill but people do.

It is not just about America alone. The US is not just the biggest consumer of weapons; they are also the biggest exporters of guns. The rest of the world cannot be fence-sitters anymore.

(Nidheesh is a student of the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.)

(This article was published on April 7, 2013)
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