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OPINION

Scourge of guns within reach


-Reuters file photo -Reuters file photo

The Texas shooting that killed 19 elementary schoolchildren and two teachers at Uvalde seems to have shaken America and the rest of the world. To think that a teenager--a 18-year-old boy-- with a gun going on a rampage in a school shooting at everyone within his sight is too dreadful, to say the least. But however incredible it may sound, it happens in America (the USA). And it has been happening over the decades, nay, centuries (the earliest such school shooting in America took place in 1764 at Pontiac's Rebellion school at present-day Greencastle in Pennsylvania). Oddly though, in most cases boys-even girls, though in fewer cases-as young as 14, even 12, have been involved in shooting fellow students or teachers in their schools.

Why, unlike elsewhere in the world, is it so common in America? It is not hard to see why. Because gun is not so easily available in any other developed country as it is in America. The type of firearms the Americans can buy are not just small defensive firearms. They can also buy offensive automatic firearms. The teenage shooter of Uvalde, Texas, Salvador Ramos, had, for instance, two semi-automatic AR-15-style rifles. And one of those he reportedly bought after his birthday.

Boys and girls in their adolescence usually suffer from behavioural disorders including anxiety and mood alterations. It is also the period (between 15 and 24) of a person's growth when she or he is most suicidal. And the past such cases show that the offending teenagers committed suicide after the shooting. The incidents ranged from revenge against a girl who rejected a boy's romantic overture to a student who was punished or denied grade by a teacher to a girl or a boy who believed they were victims of gross injustice done to them. And if such angry youths used a stick, a piece of rock or even a knife, the possible harm might have been of lesser degree and scale. But when it is a firearm that can kill instantly from a distance, things go beyond the control of the victims or others at the scene of occurrence. American teenagers had always had firearms including automatic ones within their reach. Small wonder that May 14's mass shooting at Buffalo grocery in New York that took 10 black lives was also carried out by another 18-year-old, Payton Gendron, who clearly bore racist hatred against black people. He, however, livestreamed his terrorist act through a popular video service. Ramos, the Texas school shooter, too, was active on the social media platforms frequented by teens. He was well-known on Yubo, such a platform, as a violent, misogynist bully who threatened many girls of kidnapping or raping and, often, of carrying out shooting at an elementary school. And he finally made good on his word. But why those who run the social media platforms concerned could not warn the local administration against the violent intent of these young, irate users (of the media platforms) is a mystery.

The modern-day social media platforms have turned out to be a convenient cover for these angry teens to hide under and express their extreme views anonymously. Had there been a strict law to control the citizens' ability to possess and use guns, there would not have been so many instances of mindless shootings at least in the America's schools.

In these days of internet and social media, America is not a far-off land. Though school shooting is not a problem here, teen violence is. And, though, they cannot buy firearms legally from open market as in America, they can have them from black market. And they are being drawn into the underworld of drug and crime. Strong measures are needed to arrest the degeneration.

 

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