Opinion | The right to possess arms has become Americans' nightmare for years
By Edward Hei Leung, LegCo Member
19 children and 2 teachers were killed in Texas elementary school shooting. The tragedy sparked intense discussion on US gun ownership, particularly when an 18-year-old gunman purchased two semi-automatic rifles and more than 1,600 bullets.
Sad but true, gun violence surpassed car accidents, becoming the No.1 cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents in 2020. A research team from the University of San Francisco and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health compared US firearm death rate with other high-income countries in 2018. The US accounted for almost 97% of gun deaths among children aged 4 years old or younger, while 92% between the ages of 5 and 14. Undoubtedly, the right to life is of utmost importance. US government has done little to protect the fundamental right. Imagine a similar situation in US enemies. How would Biden administration criticize?
In fact, there are more guns than people in the US. The country has more than 393 million civilian-owned weapons, sufficient enough to distribute to every individual. As a result, 46% of the civilian-held firearms around the globe circulate in a nation accounting for around 5% of the world population.
US high firearm prevalence can be traced back to the Second Amendment to its constitution in 1791, 8 years after Britain accepted American independence in the Treaty of Paris. As stated, 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". That is to say, US ancestors treasured the natural rights of self-defense that rendered Americans quickly equipped amid possible oppressions from their enemies.
Yet, starting from the late 19th century, the US has become the so-called superpower. It is a rather intriguing topic to discuss who else can threaten US people on their lands nowadays, given the country's nuclear weapon reserve. In light of this, is it necessary to maintain the right to own firearms at the sacrifice of the right to life?
As to the failure to control guns, the reason beneath is US politics. Even though many republicans signal their openness to gun restrictions after the Texas tragedy, critics believe that it is a kind of election strategy to channel public discontent away from their potential candidates in the coming US mid-term election. Needless to say, republicans traditionally defend the gun rights and attribute the reason of mass shootings to the nationwide shortage of mental health services. To their eyes, the disturbed or demented individuals would hurt others, even without firearms.
Worse still, radical republican leaders like Donald Trump support the deployment of armed teachers and metal detectors to enhance school safety. "The existence of evil is one of the best reasons to arm people", Trump added at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention. In other words, to some US politicians, the best way to tackle with deadly shootings is to arm law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, even though the crux of the problem is firearm prevalence. Does it sound ironic? Perhaps NRA's generous financial support to republicans can shed a light on this issue. The elected representative seems not to serve the people, but to assist their sources of donations instead.
For years, Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly urged US administration to take firm steps to protect Americans' human rights, especially when the US is now the worst country for gun violence. As spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, if the US government fails to do, how can it really care about human rights in other countries? Why does the US not to spent more to take care of its people?
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
Read more articles by Edward Hei Leung: