The right to have arms

The right to have arms

Was the Newtown school massacre in the United States a sign of the approaching doomsday, the apocalypse? For the 26 children and adults slaughtered by a sole gunman, Adam Lanza, it was of course the end of the world, the apocalypse.

All across the globe, the tragedy touched all hearts, pearls dropped from the eyes and everyone wished, as Pope Benedict XVI said during Sunday prayers, “May the God of consolation touch their [families of the victims] hearts and ease their pain.” It is easy to pray for families of the victims of the massacre. Irrespective of how much we want to share the grief of the families of the victims, “fire burns where it drops.” Definitely, no one would want even his worst enemy to experience such pain.

The states of the United States must revisit the thorny gun control laws and think once again to what degree individuals possessing firearms is a “freedom” or a threat to communal security. In Turkey as well, put aside homicide events, every year scores of kids and adults fell victim to brusque people celebrating something by firing their guns into the air. What do they achieve other than kill some individual people by firing their arms in the air? Often academics appear on TV to say such primitive actions could be stopped through education. Well, “education takes away illiteracy while asininity remains much the same.” Recently, there was a scene in one of the many soap operas on Turkish TVs: Rather than go to court, locals were asking a landlord that was greatly respected in the neighborhood to resolve their disputes; the same landlord, however, repeatedly celebrated the pregnancy of his late son’s wife by firing into the air.

Obviously possessing firearms cannot be a liberty or a sign of a degree of liberty in a society. Possessing firearms cannot provide security to an individual. On the contrary, it is a security risk. Besides, such weapons, even if locked in safe places in the houses, might somehow be accessed by kids or mentally disturbed people and the end result might be catastrophic for some other people.

This understanding of presenting “deterrence through weapons” is a very dangerous road to walk. Nowadays, for example, many people in Turkey are fuming against an Iranian military commander who, in a very impolite manner, warned Turkey that deploying NATO Patriot anti-missile systems was a move that risked conflict with Syria. The Iranian general furthermore claimed that the missile systems would be deployed to secure Israel’s security but might trigger a world war. Together with the Malatya radar base, the presence of “allied” troop and weapons systems on Turkish soil is reaching an all-time high, if we exclude American bases. Though President Abdullah Gül, as well as many military analysts, does not agree, Western officials fear that a cornered Bashar al-Assad could resort to desperate moves, such as using his country’s stockpile of chemical weapons. On the other hand, Turkey cannot ask, of course, Iran’s opinion before doing what is necessary for its and its allies’ defense. On the other hand, unless enforced by a no-fly zone, the deployment of the anti-missile systems could be more of a symbolic than a tactical move.