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America's passion for guns intact as shooting toll rises

A Rifle As New State Symbol. A Bill That Lets Young Children Use Handguns Under Supervision. As Mass Shootings Shatter Lives, The Fascination With Firearms Among Many Americans Shows Little Sign Of Fading.

PTI | Updated on: 28 Feb 2016, 02:30:59 PM


A rifle as new state symbol. A bill that lets young children use handguns under supervision.  As mass shootings shatter lives, the fascination with firearms among many Americans shows little sign of fading.

Over the past week, two gunmen killed at least nine people in unrelated rampages in Michigan and Kansas.

Add to that the death in Indiana of a father who was accidentally shot by his six-year-old son who found a loaded revolver lying around and pulled the trigger.

President Barack Obama—who offers his condolences to families of loved ones lost after each mass shooting—has decried the “routine” nature of reporting about and responding to such tragedies.

But faced with a Republican-controlled Congress unwilling to move forward on the matter, Obama—who made fighting gun violence his chief resolution for 2016 -- is left with his wheels spinning.

In January, he shed tears as he announced limited measures to tackle the rampant violence that kills around 30,000 Americans each year and called on citizens to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms.

In the speech, Obama formally unveiled a handful of executive measures that will make it harder to buy and sell weapons, but which he admitted would not stop the scourge of mass shootings.

And in a country where there are more guns than people, and with Republicans vying to take back the White House in November, it remains to be seen, what—if anything—will change.

Senators in Tennessee—in a near unanimous vote— designated a rifle that is said to be capable of destroying commercial aircraft as an official state symbol.

The .50-caliber Barrett, manufactured in the southern state, joins a range of other Tennessee state symbols. These include the mockingbird as “official state bird” and the raccoon as “official wild animal.”

“These ‘anti-materiel’ sniping rifles can strike accurately from a distance of more than a mile” (1.6 kilometres), the Violence Policy Centre, a non-profit organisation that advocates for gun control said.

“They can penetrate light armor, down helicopters, destroy commercial aircraft, and blast through rail cars and bulk storage tanks filled with explosive or toxic chemicals, all with potentially catastrophic effect.” Still, the semi-automatic weapon is available for sale to civilians.

For the vast majority of Europeans, South Americans and Asians, there is little doubt that a firearm is best kept as far as possible from places where people live, let alone from children.

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First Published : 28 Feb 2016, 02:27:00 PM