Straits Times, Malaysia
Don't Just Blame Virginia Tech …
"It is the ready availability of guns in that country that
gives ordinary people there a chance to live out a Hollywood, gun-toting,
- New Straits Times - Original Article (English)
be unfair to blame the Virginia Tech tragedy entirely on the jilted South
Korean student who went on the murderous rampage that resulted in the
worst-ever gun massacre American history. After all, the country is notorious
for such incidents.
slaying of 32 people differed only in scale. It is the ready availability of
guns in that country that gives ordinary people there a chance to live out a Hollywood
gun-toting, mass-murder fantasy. The Glock 9mm handgun used by Cho Seung-Hui,
the shooter at Virginia Tech, was legally purchased off-the-shelf from a
nondescript gun shop five weeks ago. It was, by all accounts, a routine
transaction. No one could have imagined that this would lead to the bloody
mayhem that has so shaken the world's most powerful nation, and reignited the
debate on gun control.
In the United
States, gun control is a subject that can be as divisive as abortion or stem
cell research, and it is further convoluted by powerful lobby groups like the
National Rifle Association. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms. Judging by the murderous
incidents of the past - Columbine, Jonesboro and now Virginia Tech - this is one
freedom that comes with a fatal price.
the number of Americans dying of gunshot wounds exceeded the number of U.S.
fatalities in Iraq. In a country with a population of 301 million, there are
about 192 million privately owned firearms, 65 million of them handguns. One in
four households have a gun and almost two million new ones are sold each year,
not to mention the uncountable numbers traded in private and on the black
before Monday's shooting, there were attempts to restrict gun purchases by
amending federal and state law, but these routinely founder on the strenuously
defended right to keep and bear arms. In Virginia, where the shooting took
place, a law was passed a few years ago to restrict gun purchases to one per
country still seems deeply ambivalent about whether gun ownership promotes or
prevents crime. This is where there is such a disconnect between the U.S. and
the rest of the world. While countries like Australia and Canada have shown
positive results in tackling firearms abuse, in the U.S., matter appears to be spiraling
out of control.
This is all
the more reason to be thankful for Malaysia's own prohibition on firearms
possession and use.