‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’
On June 12th, 49 people were killed and 53 people were injured at a nightclub in Orlando, what people are now calling the deadliest attack on American soil since 9/11.
Being the 133rd mass shooting, this year alone in The United States of America, you would expect a solution to have been prepared and implemented by now. The furthest we have gotten to a solution is Democrats saying, ‘Ban Guns !’ and Republicans chanting ‘Ban Muslims !’. The answer to terrorism is not that simple. No piece of legislation passed by Congress will put an end to terrorism and make us live in the world described in Plato’s ‘Republic’, a Utopian sort of concept.
In an article written by Jack Beauchamp, the argument is raised that radical organisations make use of the liberal gun laws and convince people to make use of these laws to spread their message…violently. While I myself am an advocate for stricter gun laws, the fact remains that the shooter in last weeks attacks worked as a security officer and had passed all sorts of background checks. Let us not forget that the shooting in Paris seven months back where 130 people died and about thrice that number were injured. France has strict gun laws. One of the strictest in the world. But that didn’t stop terrorists from doing what they had to do. For the people who believe that guns should be banned utterly and completely in the United States, do you think that the government will be able to do such a thorough job that terrorists will run around using spoons and forks ? In the attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 the terrorists were not armed with anything, popular theories say they had box cutters and knives, and yet they took down around 3000 people.
The other solution which is gaining more and more traction among the Republican, spearheaded by Donald Trump, is banning Muslim from the country. The same way that not every man is rapist, not every Muslim is a terrorist. Banning Muslims from the country is a preposterous solution which will just take us back to the era of Segregation. This will convince Muslims all around the world that the American’s do in fact loathe them which will just increase radicalism against the United States two fold. Not to mention that this would alienate communities like the Kurds who are as anti-ISIS as it gets and one of the strongest allies the Americans have in the Middle east.
Trump’s statements about banning Muslims just got louder and more vociferous after the Orlando attacks but the ironic thing is that the shooter was born in New York, Trump’s birthplace. (His parent’s were immigrants but then again so were Trump’s mother and wife).
So what is to be done about terrorism ? Are there ways of responding to it that will unequivocally put an end to it ? In particular, as Laqueur asked, ‘can a democratic society subdue terrorism without surrendering the values central to its system ?’
It is unlikely as such that terrorism will ever end. We can start by trying though by destroying the Islamic State. The IS can recruit people in a much easier manner if a perception lingers among people that it is a stable and permanent organisation. This would be a far better first step in the fight against terrorism than taking guns away or banning Muslims. Destroying the ISIS in the Middle East will definitely not remove the ideology from people’s minds. This ideology will live on longer than we will but we can subdue it so we are more prepared the next time it emerges.
What I can say confidently is that terrorism it is no more likely now than it was a century ago to bring about the demise of Western civilisation as we know it.