THE recent mass murder of 49 people by a gunman at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, has once again opened up the can of worms that is the great gun control debate in the United States.
While American citizens have the right under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, adopted in 1791, to keep and bear arms (and many see any attempt at gun control as a breach of this constitutional right), as the Senate prepares to discuss possible measures such as preventing those suspected of terrorist links from buying guns, there seem to be signs that Americans could be becoming more willing to accept limited restrictions in the aftermath of the horrific massacre.
Although President Barack Obama is known to be in favour of more gun control, the presumptive Republican nominee to run for president Donald Trump has admitted there is scope for more restrictions, but insisted he will “save the second amendment.”
However in Orlando, where he travelled to comfort victims’ relatives and survivors, Obama said: “Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families. Our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist or even just a disturbed individual to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons, and they can do so legally. I hugged grieving parents and they asked ‘Why does this keep happening?”.
Gun owners claim that if ‘the baddies’ have guns, they must be able to defend themselves, and go as far as to insist that the guns themselves are not the problem at all.
Victor Pfund, from Texas, told EWN: “Guns don’t kill. Gay, Muslim, jihadist a******es kill.”
While in Spain this may seem a matter which is of little importance, a little-known fact is that there is one legally owned gun in the country for every 16 inhabitants according to Guardia Civil records, although controls are far stricter, with only certain people being able to own weapons and a number of different licences required to do so.
Those who are allowed to obtain licences range from military, police and State security force members to hunters, however there is also one type of licence (type B) available to those able to prove that they ‘need a gun to protect themselves from serious threats’. These include jewellers and people who have received terrorism threats. Although they are subjected to exhaustive studies, they are not required to undergo any tests on use of the weapon itself and are also restricted to 100 bullets per year, which they claim seriously limits their ability to shoot their guns correctly if they did not have previous experience. There are currently 8,592 holders of this type of licence in Spain, meaning there are 8,592 people out there carrying guns who may not even know how to use them properly, Madrid’s Olympic Shooting Federation vice-president Felipe Lopez explained.
Of the total number of guns legally registered in Spain (2,918,136), 75 per cent are shotguns and 11 per cent rifles used by hunters. With the gun debate also running in the European Commission following recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the National Arms Association in Spain poses an important question to us all, stating: “It makes no sense to limit the number of legal arms in the fight against organised criminal groups that use illegal weapons. Placing more restrictions on gun ownership is not the way to ensure criminals can’t kill.”
While as a mother I am completely against guns, I have had to face the fact that wishing they didn’t exist is not going to stop them existing, and believe that there are some convincing arguments from both sides. Are we really naïve enough to believe that passing laws will stop those intent on evil from breaking them?