By Nie Shuyi
On April 12, local time, gunshots rang out at a subway station in Brooklyn, New York City, USA, wounding 29 people, with 10 suffering direct gunshot wounds. Ironically, the day before, the Biden administration just announced new gun control measures, vowing to curb the proliferation of “ghost guns". The resounding gunshots at the New York subway station and the bloodstains on the floor of the subway train are demonstrating that gun violence has long been deeply rooted in American society and become a "malignant tumor" difficult to remove.
Gun violence has become a "routine" in the US. According to statistics from the US Gun Violence Archive (GVA) website, there have been 131 mass shootings in the US this year as of April 13, resulting in 143 deaths and hundreds of people wounded. In an interview with CNN in August 2021, Rochelle P. Warrenski, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared that gun violence has become a "serious public health threat" in the US, and "something has to be done about this."
However, multiple US governments have been "willing but unable to limit gun ownership" on the issue of gun violence. For instance, the new gun control measures announced by the Biden administration on April 11 mainly target the proliferation of "ghost guns" that has attracted increasing attention in the US in recent years. According to the US Attorney General Merrick Garland, "this rule will make it harder for criminals and other prohibited persons to obtain untraceable guns, and help ensure that law enforcement officers can retrieve the information they need to solve crimes." Nevertheless, the new rule is still under question by gun owners and politicians, as pointed out by a leader of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), "the president unveils yet another hollow plan (by the Democrats)." Considering that numerous gun-related executive orders issued by Democratic administrations and some Democratic states have either been repealed by the Republican administrations or found to be unconstitutional in the Supreme Court, a big question mark has been placed on how far the Biden's plan can go, not to mention other ambitious gun control measures proposed by the progressive Democrats.
Gun proliferation, a problem getting increasingly serious in the US, is what lies behind the frequent gun violence crimes, and can be described as the root cause of societal breakdown and political polarization in the US. The US is one of the few countries in the world with "more guns than people", and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is an individual constitutional right in the US. This means that if the problem of gun proliferation is expected to be fundamentally solved in the US, the first step should be the legislative change l. However, it is almost impossible to accomplish the task in the US. On the one hand, the threshold for the constitutional amendment is particularly high in the US. As calculated by the US late Supreme Court Justice Anton in Scalia, the negative votes from only 2% of Americans could be powerful enough to prevent a constitutional amendment from being passed under the current US system. As a result, despite polls showing that most Americans support tougher gun control measures, it is almost impossible to amend the Constitution to abolish gun ownership for all citizens.
On the other hand, gun control has no longer been a safety issue related to human life; instead, this has become a "political issue". The US Democrats and Republicans have been deeply divided on this, having made gun control legislation extremely difficult. For instance, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed two gun control bills on March 11, 2021, which ultimately failed to get approved by the US Senate. It has been clearly shown that as the American society continues to tear apart and political confrontation keeps intensifying, the US government is destined to act as a “paperhanger” who covers surfaces, instead of fundamentally solving problems.
The reality of high irony is that on April 11 when the measures to control the "ghost guns" were announced, Biden also announced the nomination of former federal prosecutor Steve Dettelbach to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). If the nomination is approved by the Senate, Steve Dettelbach will be the first full-time director of the ATF since 2015. As an important administrative agency for gun control in the US, the ATF has not had an official head for a long time, which also reflects the epitome of the difficulty in US gun control.
The gunshots constantly echoing on American soil show that guns have no longer been a "weapon for defending freedom"; instead, it is a "scythe" that ruthlessly cut people's lives. How much will the American people have to pay to completely cut off the huge "malignant tumor"?
Editor’s note: This article is originally published on haiwainet.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.