THE proliferation of guns is one of the major problems facing Pakistan today. It is not just a crime-related issue or a danger that leads to the phenomenon that is terrorism; the issue has a bearing on society’s evolution. With a gun in hand, there is considerable possibility of arguments being settled by firing a shot or two. In societies where children are regularly exposed to shootout scenes on screens, the fascination with guns and the temptation to kill and be ‘a hero’ leads to tragic consequences. The latest reminder of the dangers of easy accessibility to guns was last week’s shooting in a Connecticut school. The killing of 26 people, mostly children, was just one example of the senseless massacres in schools and shopping malls in America. The recurring tragedy stems from the failure of Congress to have effective gun control laws in a country where reportedly there are more guns than people. One of America’s biggest lobbies is the National Rifle Association, which has succeeded in pre-empting every move to curtail the easy availability of handguns. The most determined attempt at gun control was made by James Brady, one of Ronald Reagan’s aides who was injured in an assassination attempt on the president in 1981. Yet all that the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act achieved was to ensure checks on the purchaser.
Pakistan’s problems are different than America’s. In the US they know the manufacturers and sellers: it is all legal and constitutional (by virtue of the Second Amendment). In Pakistan, it is all illegal. The constitution says only the state can maintain armed forces; in practice there are dozens of private militias, besides criminal groups. There is no constitutional ban in the way of gun control; what we need is effective law-enforcement.