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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
The freedom at gunpoint
    2016-01-18  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

     Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    ON Jan. 5, a tearful Barack Obama announced numerous executive actions aimed at decreasing gun violence in the U.S. The measures include expansion of mandatory background checks at gun shows, flea markets and for online sales, the addition of more than 230 examiners and staff to help process the checks and calls on states to submit accurate and updated criminal history data.

    Obama grew emotional as he made a passionate call for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, referring to the victims of shootings on school campuses, pausing to wipe away tears.

    But to the outside world, the measures will have little impact on eliminating the deadliest threat to the lives of American people for many understandable reasons.

    Obama is not the first president to push for tighter gun laws in the U.S. and won’t be the last, but no individual or collective efforts can make changes unless the leopard changes its spots.

    Every time there is a mass shooting, there will be a heated debate about gun control in the U.S., but it never takes long for people to forget about the tragedies, to say nothing of any substantial change. The only certain consequence of shooting sprees is the purchase of more guns for “self-protection.”

    This is a uniquely American paradox. On the one hand, Americans regard it as a natural and just right of individuals to own and carry firearms for self-defense and liberty. The Second Amendment to the Constitution enshrines the right. In 2008 and 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court made landmark rulings that ensured possession of firearms for lawful purposes. Since then, a slew of state laws have expanded access to firearms and the freedom to carry them in public. In a word, owing a gun is supposed to ensure individual freedom.

    On the other hand, more and more individuals are being deprived of their freedom together with their lives. The irony of this free nation is that almost 100,000 people are shot or killed each year. How can people claim themselves to be free if they have no freedom of being alive? Given the fact that a shooting spree may break out any minute anywhere — on campus, at parties — America is one of the most dangerous countries on Earth except ones at war.

    This contradicting logic surrounding the gun-freedom relationship reflects an inherent flaw in American ideologies.

    Proponents say gun ownership is a constitutional right that protects them against violent crimes and a possible tyrannical government. They trumpet that an armed society is a polite society and ultimately protects the rights of all. To this statement, an angry American citizen retorted, “Utter rubbish. America is armed to the teeth and ruder than just about any nation.”

    If democracy can ensure a democratic government, why bother to arm the population to fight a tyrannical government? If democracy fails to prevent a tyrannical government from going to power, can an armed population confront the government armed with overwhelmingly superior weapons? Such rhetoric holds little water; it’s just a lame pretext to maintain the interests of certain interest groups — including those of the NRA and even more powerful defense industry complexes.

    For regular gun-loving American folks, they are facing a dilemma of their own making: they find it hard to part with their fascination for guns — they have been brought up in a culture of gun worship — and they fear the prospect of being a gun victim themselves.

    Those who defend gun ownership maintain that guns don’t kill unless they are in the hands of maniacs. Anyone can be a maniac — it’s just a matter of where and when. To say nothing of the real danger of an armed psychopath!

    Australia was also once plagued with gun crimes, but it enacted one of the largest gun reforms in recent history after a man killed 35 people and wounded 23 others in a cafe in 1996. As a result, gun deaths plummeted. The changes remain the gold standard for advocates of gun control today.

    Can the U.S. be another Australia?

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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