Right to Information
Gun-totting US citizens, quite literally

Shooting incidents in the USA have become a nightmarish reality thanks to the regularity of their occurrence. Has it anything to do with easy laws of acquisition of fire arms license for individuals?

While the horrendous Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting has sent shock waves across the nation, shooting incidences in the USA is a nightmarish reality that occurs every now and then. In May this year, a mother in Florida shot dead her four children at their home. More chilling is the fact, that at one point, three of the children ran out to the neighbour’s house for help after being wounded by the first round of gunshots. The mother called them back and then fatally shot them, including herself.


This year itself there have been four major shooting incidents:

27th February: A student opened fire in a cafeteria at a school in Ohio, killing three students and injuring two others before being arrested.

2nd April: A gunman killed seven people and injured three at a Christian College in Oakland

20th July: A masked gunman killed 14 people and injured 50 others in Aurora, Colorado, in a multiplex cinema hall where the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” was showing

5th August: A gunman killed six people in a Gurudwara at Wisconsin.


As per official statistics quoted in news reports, 88% of Americans possess firearms. The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the USA is 270,000,000. In 2010 alone, there were 14,159 deaths due to killing by guns.  Barring a few states, a person is allowed to openly carry loaded guns without a permit in the USA. 


The gun lobby in the USA is very powerful and it has been difficult for politicians to tighten the laws. Journalist Paul Adams of BBC recently wrote: “The gun lobby is too strong and public support for tougher rules has collapsed over the past decade. After the Aurora shootings, the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, demanded that Mr Obama and Mitt Romney address the issue of guns. But as Mr Obama more or less acknowledged in New Orleans, politics and attention spans render immediate change an unlikely prospect.”


The liberty for an individual in the USA to easily possess a gun goes back to the 18th century when the country implemented the “Second Amendment”. This Act states that, “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Judgments of two court cases in 2008 and 2010 respectively further clarified that civilian individuals have a right to possess arms and that the law not only applies to federal enclaves like Washington DC but to other states and local self government bodies as well.


I was amazed to stumble upon a women’s magazine while surfing the Internet, called “Women & Guns”—the first firearms magazine for women. The advertisement for subscription reads: “whether your ‘target’ shooting takes the form of plinking at tin cans, taking part in organised bowling pins shoots, or trying out the new zombie targets from a host of manufacturers, there is something for everyone—and everyone’s taste. And besides the fun of target shooting, it can’t help but hone your skills as well.”


The website—www.gunpolicy.org has interesting statistics of guns in the USA and other parts of the world. This website is hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health (University of Sydney).  The school supports “global efforts to prevent gun injury and promotes the public health model of firearm injury prevention, as adopted by the United Nations Programme of Action on illicit arm.”


According to www.gunpolicy.org, “there are more than 875 million firearms in the world, 75% of them in the hands of civilians. Guns outnumber passenger vehicles by 253 million, or 29%. Each year about eight million new small arms, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured—enough bullets to shoot every person in the world not once, but twice. The authorised international trade in small arms and ammunition exceeds $7.1 billion each year.”


The website also states that South Asia receives the largest inflow of small arms with India ranking second in the number of guns possessed by individuals (46 million). Pakistan ranks sixth and possesses 18 millions small arms at the individual level.


Despite such gory public massacres due to gun shooting, majority of US citizens believe that gun laws should not be tightened for the sake of personal safety.

Number of privately owned firearms: The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000

Rate of civilian firearm possession per 100 population: 88.82 firearms per 100 people

Number of military firearms: The defence forces of the United States are reported to have 3,054,5533 firearms

Number of police firearms: Police in the United States are reported to have 897,4004 firearms


Number of deaths in USA due to shooting:

2010: 14,159

2009: 15,241

2008: 16,272

2007: 16,929

2006: 17,030

2005: 16,740

2004: 16,148

2003: 16,528

2002: 16,229

2001: 16,037

2000: 15,586 

1999: 12,658

1998: 14,276

1997: 18,208

1996: 19,645

1995: 21,606


* In the USA, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted without a licence in some jurisdictions


* The minimum age for gun ownership in the United States is regulated by state or local authorities according to weapon type, but is 18 years to purchase shotguns and rifles and 21 years to purchase all other firearms, according to Federal law


* In the United States, the law does not require that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register


*The buyer of a firearm in a private sale in the United States is not obliged to pass official background checks before taking possession


*The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in the United States is obliged to pass official background checks before taking possession


•           (Source: www.gunpolicy.org)

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected]


Baba Ramdev using agitation as license to take on authorities says Government

Ramdev has now succumbed to the pressure of BJP and also the NDA partners and to that extent he has completely lost his credibility, says M Veerappa Moily

New Delhi: Slamming yoga guru Baba Ramdev for using his agitation as a 'license' to take on those in authority, the union government on Tuesday said he should respect Parliament, Constitution and those occupying key posts, reports PTI.
"Ramdev has lost his identity as a fighter. He has now succumbed to the pressure of BJP and also the NDA partners. There is no doubt about it. To that extent he has completely lost his credibility," Union Minister M Veerappa Moily told reporters outside Parliament House.
The Corporate Affairs Minister lamented the manner in which Ramdev lashed out at the government.
"This is not worth talking about. The manner in which he used very loose language demonstrates the fact that he has taken this thing as a license to speak against, abuse people in authority. He does not understand that there are certain Constitutional posts which he has to acknowledge," Moily said.
Ramdev gave the call, "Congress hatao, desh bachao (remove Congress, save the country". Claiming the support of around 400 Members of Parliament, he said the government would lose its majority if Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party withdraw support.
Moily alleged that Ramdev does not understand that there is a Parliament established by the Constitution which in turn was created by the sacrifice of many freedom fighters.
"That language he does not understand. I think he has to limit himself as a decent person. That is what is required," Moily said.


Nalco Q1 net profit falls 41% to Rs223 crore

Aluminium contributed Rs1,248 crore to the total income of NALCO during the first quarter while  chemicals and electricity contributed Rs760 crore and Rs515 crore, respectively

State-run National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco) reported a 41% fall in net profit to Rs223 crore for the quarter ended-June due to higher costs for fuel and power. The Bhubaneswar-based aluminium maker had a net profit of Rs377 crore in the same quarter of the previous year. 
Total income of the company was down to Rs1,748 crore during the quarter ended June 2012 against Rs1,763 crore in the same quarter in the previous year.
Aluminium contributed Rs1,248 crore to the total income, chemicals Rs760 crore and electricity Rs515 crore.
Power and fuel comprised Rs605 crore of the total expenses during the quarter, compared to Rs 481 crore in the year-ago period.



anantha ramdas

5 years ago

I think the government should handover Nalco to Vedanta's
Agarwal and ask him to turn it

He has a track record of reviving dead horses and
make them win Derbys

anantha ramdas

5 years ago

I think the government should handover Nalco to Vedanta's
Agarwal and ask him to turn it

He has a track record of reviving dead horses and
make them win Derbys

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