Rights and mass shootings PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 February 2018 15:13

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

The 2nd amendment to the US constitution provides that citizens have the right to “keep and bear arms” and this right is recognized because of the necessity for security of the state and the citizen. But this same right has also led to the dreadful phenomenon of mass shootings in the US.

The Parkland, Florida shooting took the lives of 17 students and teachers of a high school and it is said to be the 28th school shooting incident in 19 years since Columbine. 28 incidents in 19 years come out to  more than 1 incident a year and that is one incident too many, each year.

Democracy is a type of government that demands a mature understanding and respect for  the rights of citizens and of the state, if it is to work properly for the good of the  greater number. But the mass shooting incidents in the US over the last couple of years  can lead one to wonder if the right “to bear arms” has been strongly protected in defense of rights or in defense of commerce.

Most sober commentaries I have read about mass shootings in the US  claim that the right to gun ownership is pursued very strongly by the lobby of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the lobby is by heavy contributions to the election campaigns of government officials who hold their positions through winning elections.

In the case of the Parkland incident one wonders how far the right “to bear arms” should be protected. It has been reported that the shooter in this case is a 19-year old  man who used as his weapon a legally-bought AR-15 assault rifle. I cannot rationalize how anyone would allow a 19-year old to buy an assault rifle, notwithstanding a constitutional provision for the right to bear arms.

In the Philippines we are stricter in terms of allowing a citizen to own a gun. If one wants to own a gun lawfully one has to go to a rather tiresome process. If one is too impatient to go through the process there is the illegal but faster way of doing it.  I think the authorities are very much aware of this but they pretend they don’t know. It is even bruited about that these same “authorities” are in fact very much involved in the sale of these items.

It is said that poor societies are more violent than affluent societies like the US. But poor as we are in the  Philippines we have not experienced mass shooting incidents like the Sandy Hook one, or the Las Vegas one, or the latest Parkland one.  The worst that I can remember is  the massacre in Maguindanao. Bad as it was, this  is something we  thank God for.