Gun Violence at Pulse in Orlando in United States: The American Response to Gun Running and the Jihadi Dimension
Dr. Manan Dwivedi

The Pulse mass shooting in Orlando is a horrendous and atrocious event which beats the American nation, its establishment and its people at their famed homeland security management. One perception contends that Orlando has been attacked by a well groomed but heretic ISIS functionary who is hiding under the arc of being a derelict as narrated to the larger world by his family after his demise at the hands of the security forces. The act of violence and the shooting spree might be about gun control but juvenile delinquency and “exclusion strife” along with radical Islamic fundamentalism, are too a causes. After September 11, humiliatingly the American homeland has been breached and the Mt. Sinai nation seems shaken. Still, it took them 15 years to breach the near-to-impregnable citadel of the US homeland. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit and his hallmark address to the US Congress reflects, the “hesitancy of the past” though used in a different context, needs to be revisited by the managers and guardian-think tanks of the threat to the American homeland and its larger societal and political construct similar to the threat posed by cross border terrorism and other lone wolf attacks which are deftly utilized by the Global terror organizations. The attack in San Bernardino too, was, enveloped in the same ambiguous context as the perpetrators were an amalgam of psychological corporate burn outs and trained murderers who involved themselves in religious extremism.

The American law allows for the marketing and selling of guns in the nation’s public sphere. Some amount of delimitation varying from one state to another is present which places some shambolic limits on the selling of weapons such as assault rifles and hand guns bought on the pretext of target practice and game hunting. Some iota of psychological and background checks on the mental state of the buyer and license holder, are, also prescribed by law in some states. Still, the buyers succeed in bending the gun law and own the weapons which if falling into youth with unstable visage, are a palpable threat to life and property in the homeland. It was some years back that similar to the anti-tobacco lobby, the Gun control lobby too waged a prime battle in the legal firmament of the American nation. It was a joint striving on the part of a select group of Law Firms which militated against the free Gun commerce and gun transactional culture in the United States. It is eminently enshrined in the idea of the American Dream, its constitutional premise and the history of its liberty militias, both during the Revolution and after that, which firmly establishes the Gun culture as a stolid attribute of the quintessential Rodeo citizen of the American nation. As part of the Frontier spirit, entrepreneurship valor and the wild sweep of the Wild West’s Oregon trail across the Rocky mountains, the utility of free and easily available guns have always been a quintessential character of the Federal-Provincial American Dream and the larger way of life.

With the ingress of the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the exclusion being felt by a section of the American population belonging to the South Asian and the West Asian lineage, the social matrix of the country was impacted adversely. In the Muslim population in the nation, youth were made part of a regressive culture of rebellion, racial acrimony and hatred with baseball games, super bowl celebration giving way to parking brawls and cyber indoctrination by European and West Asian clerics. These neo-converts are restless souls inclined to militate against the establishment and the general national character. This crisis fomented by terrorism and its lone wolf actors, also, poses a question for the entire idea of Education in United States where the American state has undertaken measures to implement equity and inclusion in the society. Counselors and psychologists from among the teachers and the educational system have been accorded responsibilities to train and treat the derelicts among the juvenile freedom runners in the country.

The Gun laws too primarily aim to keep the guns away from criminals and prohibited people. The current American President, too, has initiated some measures and issued demarches to the transgressors and criminals who have played havoc with the peace, stability and the general internal heft of the nation. In judgments such as District of Columbia Vs Heller, and various other judgments, the American Supreme Court has maintained that the second Amendment to the US Constitution is not an obstacle to the general objective of keeping intact the safety and security of the American people. But, there appears to be a bias in the developing jurisprudence and in the attitude of the jurists, that, Lower courts in United States have brought forth the case for sustaining the provincial and local gun laws, at various levels of administration of justice.

The general consensus being that the local and provincial gun laws are adequately worded and utilized to maintain a deft balance. There is a vast phalanx of gun laws present in the states and at the Federal level in the country which can be made effective with some amendments and changes. In the web portal, Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, the issue to carry guns and weapons in public is being looked into. The Law centre portal informs, as quoted verbatim, “For example, the Court denied review in Kachalsky v. Cacace, a case in which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York law prohibiting the issuance of a concealed carry permit unless the applicant can demonstrate that good cause exists to issue the permit.” Studies have also shown that various defenses of owning guns at home and for the objective of personal defense have been talked about and avidly deliberated upon. Still, the studies inform us that the guns which are individually owned for the purpose of self defense, are, the major causes for initiating related violence and terror events with “spectacular global impact”. Child access prevention laws, safe storage methods and requirements that gun dealers provide safety information, have been included at some of the gun debate touch points. Still, it has been noted that around 1.7 million children reside in homes with loaded, unlocked guns, making them sixteen times more likely to be killed in unintentional shootings than in other high income nations. Thus, there is a civil societal voice being raised for, “commonsense safety measures” to prevent damage through unintentional shootings, too. Thus, various aspects of the Gun violence controversy need to be revisited before creating legal and US led and facilitated mechanisms, to re order and reframe the Global objectives to counter terror and general crime.

There are ten states with worst gun violence records in United States. Well-known columnist on American society and its underbelly, Thomas C Frohlich writes that Gun violence incident rates are highest in states such as Alaska which records 20 gun deaths per one lakh people. Also, studies have shown that states with the least prohibitive gun control laws are the worst affected with gun violence. In Hawaii, the records of the Gun violence fatalities are the lowest with only 2.7 deaths among one lakh people in 2014. Not the assault rifles which the suicidal lone wolves use, but the easily hand guns are the most widely used weapon of choice for committing murder in the nation. As an aside, President Obama was also very sentimentally moved during a January 5, 2015 statement on Gun Violence. Speaking on Common Sense Gun Safety reform, President Obama admitted with a sense of self deprecation that, “Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. Fort Hood. Binghamton. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. The Navy Yard. Santa Barbara. Charleston. San Bernardino. Too many.” It can be scripted as a ready check on partisanship that a few years back, personages such as President George Bush, Senator John McCain and even the spokesperson of the National Rifle Association pinpointed the loopholes that existed in the larger rubric of Gun control legislation which might be Gothic going by a reading in the post-ISIS scenario. John Manchin and Pat Toomey, two Senators from United States, both being supported by the NRA and being proud and loud gun owners, too militated against the condition of gun laws and the related loopholes. They campaigned for the inculcation of the all important background checks while a gun transaction takes place in the United States. President Obama also quoted President Ronald Reagan in a White House address that, “As Ronald Reagan once said, if mandatory background checks could save more lives, “it would be well worth making it the law of the land.” The bill before Congress three years ago met that test. Unfortunately, too many senators failed theirs.” Thus, the norm of bipartisanship was one of the strengths of the American political system which has seemingly evaporated away from the firmament of the novae stream of partisanship and political polarization which has made issues devoid of a larger nationalistic and global following but more of a political nitpicking. Even in China, a vandal attacked a mob but with a knife, so, the resultant human carnage was low as compared to what has been seen in places such as Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and Orlando. Still, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has informed that the homicide rate in United States has fallen to its 51 year low. Pew Research Centre has contended that the American Public is unaware of the homicide rate in United States and it has dwindled by 49 per cent in the last 20 years. Despite the Pulse incident happening at this point of time in the context of Homeland Security, in a nation of 300 million people, the national homicide rate is not going to be impacted. Still, another vortex like theme happens to be that of how Islamic Fundamentalism and juvenile delinquency are interrelated in the aftermath of the Pulse Club mass shooting in Orlando. The nations which want to weld the international consensus against localized terror, are, appalled at this tragedy. One has to decipher the inter-linkages between radicalization of American youth and the delinquent idiom of free riders in the American social and political firmament, where it is directly related to the attribute of immigration and undocumented aliens in the American homeland.

The writer is a Assistant Professor, International Relations, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi

Published Date: 29th June 2016, Image Source:
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Vivekananda International Foundation)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
1 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Contact Us