Thanks to the Second Amendment to the American Constitution, almost all American citizens are entitled to the ownership of arms for self-defence and resisting government tyranny. But is a 1791 amendment, in the world of mass-manufactured arms and semi-automatic assault rifles, outdated? The statistics are gruelling. Of the world’s 25 worst mass shootouts of the past 50 years, 15 have occurred in the US; of US’s 61 worst shootouts of the last 30 years, guns have been acquired legally in almost 50 of those cases; and finally, compared to the rest of the rich world, the US is an “unusually violent” nation with over 6 to 10 deaths per 100,000 population in the last 3 decades, compared to 0 to 3 for most of rich world. Clearly, something is amiss with the American experiment of the right to bear arms.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), and rural white Americans from southern Republican states form the bulwark against any meaningful action on gun control. The NRA, obviously, has its economic interest and raison d’être at stake—and even spent $11 million to get Obama out of the White House—whereas the southerners turn to the Tea Party while discussing gun-rights, and hence make any serious discourse on gun control politically inflammable. Even Obama, in 2008, promised never to take away the rights under the Second Amendment. But, can another shootout, another set of crying relatives and another promise by the President make any difference? Some recent media reports consider NRA’s power to be an overblown myth, largely because important changes are occurring in the US’s social constitution. And since Democrats are not going to get the southern votes anyway, they should not hesitate in putting gun-control at the forefront of their agenda.