Recent incidents in the US have revived debate on gun control
MASS shootings in the United States are a regularly occurring nightmare. Two recent instances are the Colorado shooting in a cinema on July 20 and the shooting two Sundays ago in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. On Monday, near Texas A&M University, a gunman killed two and wounded two. According to the publication Mother Jones, there have been 60 mass shootings in the US since 1982 with four or more fatalities. Two-thirds were carried out with licensed guns, including semi-automatics and assault rifles. Of course, mass shootings also occur in other countries. In July last year, a Norwegian right-wing fanatic killed 77. In Norway, civilian ownership guns is strictly curbed. Only those over 18 considered responsible and within two categories -- hunting and sporting -- can be licensed.
Every time an armed person opens fire indiscriminately at groups of people, the world, and especially the US, goes through a gun-control debate and this has been going on for decades. To any layman, a direct link exists between gun crime and how easy it is to obtain guns. To the gun lobby, however, no research has produced absolute correlations between liberal gun laws and mass shootings. Exceptions can always be cited to refute the rule. Although Canadian gun laws, for example, are a little stricter than that of the US, most have access to firearms. Yet, the contrast in statistics is obvious: mass shootings happen much less often in Canada. On the other hand, where there is zero tolerance for civilian ownership of firearms, such terrifying ordeals as the Colum-bine school massacre in 1999 simply do not occur. Malaysia is a prime example: the punishment for possession of unlicensed firearms is death. The Malaysian equivalents of students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would not have the means to commit such carnage.
But even Malaysia is not as leery of weaponry as, say, the United Kingdom, where the bobby on the beat is unarmed. The reason is mostly symbolic but also has the practical aspect of avoiding a backlash that could cause desperate criminals to arm themselves or target the police. In this country, patrolling policemen are, for the most part, armed with handguns. Indeed, gun battles between criminals and the force have been known to happen, but these are rare. In the US, gun control is mired in politics. Both presidential contenders have weighed in on opposing sides of the gun debate. In Malaysia, on the other hand, there is no debate. Malaysians are quite happy to have guns placed under severe restriction.