It’s Because They Have Guns, Stupid!

I have this fantasy. I am driving a high-end bulldozer on Mumbai’s roads. Whenever I find a cab or a car parked or driving illegally, I slam into it and convert it into metal pulp. I am the road-warrior, in charge of keeping the roads of Mumbai safe. I am the unchallenged Emperor of Concrete. I can bulldoze anyone who dares me or gets in my way.
This fantasy of course, will never come true. But I keep gravitating to it, each time it gets really bad on the roads; people walking in the middle, drivers honking at me for no reason, cars in front suddenly going maddeningly slow, buses coming dangerously close, all on the same stretch of the road, all together slowly but surely, raising my temper and wrath.
Now imagine that I have a gun!
I am not sure if on a really, really bad, stressful day, after having fought with and shouted at everyone and his uncle and aunt, I would be able to resist the temptation to pull that gun out and frighten the wits out of the people who were hassling me.
Now imagine that I am a person who is unable to handle stress, or is deeply depressed, or has just lost his job or a dear one, or is in the middle of a divorce. And I also have a gun that I have pulled out so that I can make the people who are stressing me out, quiver with fear.
Something snaps.
I pull the trigger. Someone screams.
Have gun…will use!
We’ve been led to believe that it’s extremely difficult to own a gun in our country. But it surely doesn’t look that way these days. People are suddenly pulling out guns at traffic signals, at toll-nakas, after drunken bouts in discos and in private parties. And then we have this man who completely loses it this Thursday, just because he couldn’t stand the sound of construction work in his building.
Anyone can lose self-control during extreme stress. But not everyone starts harming himself/herself or people around. Even when that happens, it usually takes the shape of some kind of physical violence, either in the form of fisticuffs or blunt weapons or sometimes knives, all of which though potentially fatal, do not carry the finality of a gun. Worse, the person holding the gun may have never actually intended to shoot; but a sudden slip of the finger, or change in the emotional state may be all it takes for that little extra pressure on the trigger…and then, boom!
Hardly any other civilized country, except the United States, allows private individuals to own guns. This is perhaps not the forum to debate the pros and cons of gun control in the US. However, as far as India is concerned, given our levels of maturity and self-control, there is no question that there should only be more control over who is allowed to buy and use guns, rather than less. It should be virtually impossible to buy and own a gun. Not only that, I am also convinced that those who own guns should submit to regular psychological evaluation and counseling – if they fail these tests, their guns should be confiscated and this rule should apply even to those who use guns as part of their official duties.
We just can’t have 50-year old men with access to guns shooting teenage girls because they’ve snapped. Period!

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