The right to bear arms versus the right to life

The United States is again immersed in a never-ending debate: the right to bear firearms, almost without restrictions in most of its states, versus the right to life. The massacre of 19 children and two teachers in a school in the small town of Uvalde (Texas), when an 18-year-old boy mercilessly fired two assault rifles and caused a tragedy that has shocked the world, challenges federal and state regulations on matter.

According to official figures from the Swiss organization Small Arms Survey, it indicates that in the US there are more weapons than inhabitants. There are 393 million firearms in this country; that is, 120 for every 100 inhabitants, which constitutes more than 40% of the entire civilian arsenal in the world, according to the Expansión newspaper in an extensive report. Meanwhile, there are more than 800 million units for sale on the legal and illegal market. In the case of Texas, a recent regulation was approved that makes the carrying of weapons even more flexible.

The Uvalde massacre occurred on a calm day, shortly before the start of summer vacation. The 18-year-old got the rifles, shot his grandmother in the face, posted his plans on his social media, and headed to the school to make them happen. Now there is much criticism of the Police for the slowness with which he acted, despite the clamor of the parents who begged for the intervention to prevent the massacre. The identities and faces of the victims have been published and it is moving to see that a disturbed man could have taken the lives of children and two women dedicated to teaching.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated case. Ten days earlier there was another massacre in a supermarket parking lot in Buffalo (New York). The Gun Violence report indicates that in the five months of 2022 there have been more than 200 shootings in Joe Biden’s country.

Despite the dramatic evidence, despite the lives stolen in these events, in the United States there are many defenders of the use of firearms by civilians. The National Rifle Association has powerful politicians and businessmen among its members. One of them is precisely Donald Trump and other leaders of the Republican Party. Although the tragedy of Uvalde still hurts the Americans, this entity will hold its convention these days and it is expected that the speakers will maintain the defense of bearing arms.

The now controversial regulations that leave so much freedom for the carrying of weapons are based on the second amendment to the United States Constitution, approved in 1791; that is, 231 years ago. Then, when that nation was just being born, the “founding fathers” considered that a well-ordered militia was necessary for the security of a free State, for which they decided that the right of the people to possess and bear arms would not be violated.

But almost two and a half centuries have passed. In the US there are security forces constituted at the federal and state levels, which configures a very different reality from when that country was founded. The new context shows that there are frequent shootings and crimes, many of them carried out by people with mental disorders, who still have access to firearms of all kinds and caliber.

This debate is perhaps one of the main challenges for President Joe Biden. Although there are defenders of weapons, there seem to be an increase in those asking for a brake so that access to them is not so free. The right to life is a human right and the United States cannot continue to live like in the Wild West.

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