I come from a country where value for life is based on convenience. If it’s convenient and politically useful for the authorities and government to act, they will protect the life of their citizens and when it is not beneficial, they will not. Yes, it’s hard-hitting and a lot of people will disagree, but that is the truth! If you don’t believe me, turn on a news channel in India, you will invariably hear about some deaths/killings/rapes/assault in the country. However, there is seldom any news on the corrective action being taken by the authorities and the government. Because c’mon in a country of over a billion, what are a few lives!
When I moved to the US many years ago, there were many things that I was enamored of the US as a developed nation. But what stood out to me the most was the emphasis and value attached to every life living in the country. I felt safe when I stepped out of my house and knew that my rights would be protected as a legal immigrant in this country. Every single life was important and had to protected and preserved.
Over the last few years, this narrative has been changing. It has been just over a month after the Vegas shooting and here we are again with a mass shooting in Texas. The most important value of this country, “life” is again taken away! Churches, temples, concerts, playgrounds and schools are not spared.
With the easy access to guns, once again innocent lives are taken and families are broken. The drill that follows though is all too familiar. Once again condolences and thoughts and prayers will be sent. For a few days, there will be discussions on the need for newer gun laws and how every new proposal will get stonewalled. And then there will be the next news cycle and in the name of resilience, this shooting will be forgotten till it repeats itself!
What has happened to the country to which every life was so important? How can someone’s right to bear arms be more important than someone’s life? Didn’t we believe that my liberty to swing my fist ends where your nose begins? I live in a subconscious fear for my life now here in the US similar to my fears back in India.
So, what can we do as a society? I am initiating Charu’s ramblings with something really serious and also very important and something that needs to be talked about. Here is the dichotomy I personally struggle with, with regards to this issue. While I strongly believe that the ability to carry firearms should be banned, I also take heart when a single mother living in a not-so-safe neighborhood wants a firearm to protect her children or the lone household in the middle of a farm wants to be able to defend themselves when nearest local police is an hour away. But something has to change!! There has to be a middle ground.
I am penning down some of my ideas to reach this elusive middle ground, and would love to hear yours.
- Recurring drives for gun safety education – especially in local neighborhoods where open carry is allowed
- A signature campaign in your local districts to ban sale of automatic weapons and assault rifles
- Instituting very serious repercussions (fines, jail time, or something else) when important information is not entered in the appropriate databases (it infuriates me that the recent Texas shooting could have been avoided but for the error by the Air force) or mental health issues are not reported or the requisite checks are not done before the sale of a firearm
- Better awareness and education of mental health issues in schools, colleges and neighborhoods– and if we see someone with issues, get them help without judgement!
The one thing that keeps me optimistic is that through each of these incidents, we hear stories of unlikely heroes, of women and men who didn’t think twice about saving lives. It gives me hope that we do care about each other and we can come together in the face of a dire situation.