America’s gun laws – Editorial in Asian Age, Dec 04, 2015

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Was the massacre of 15 people at San Bernardino, California, an act of Islamist terror, a Paris 2 as it were? The killers were a Pakistani-American Muslim couple who, it is being said, had contacts with Islamic extremists and had stockpiled guns and bombs at home. We don’t as yet know whether this is true. What we do know is that mass shootings have become a regular affair in America. In over a dozen recent mass shootings, the killers have been Christian fanatics, white supremacists, disgruntled workers and the mentally ill. Isn’t the problem in America then the constitutionally guaranteed right of everyone in the United States to bear arms?

Consider the facts: Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had four guns, all of them bought legally. That’s true of the guns used in 15 recent mass shootings. At least eight of the gunmen involved in those killings had criminal histories or documented health problems, but that did not prevent their obtaining weapons legally.

And yet, hours after the San Bernardino massacre, every Republican Senator except one, including the four running for President, actually voted against legislation pending since 2007 to prevent people on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns or explosives. They also blocked another bill that merely called for expanded background checks to screen out convicted felons and the mentally ill.

Clearly the Republicans are stuck in 1791, when the Second Amendment — “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” — was written into the US Constitution.                               

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