Gun Rights – Gun Wrongs

uvalde shooting gun violence

I have been numb and silent. Not like me. But I guess I am also human and sometimes the pain is too much. 19 children dead? Should I be thankful that none of those who died in Buffalo, Uvalde or in the many instances of mass shootings that happen as regularly as rainfall in America, didn’t have the name of one of my loved ones in the casualty list? Or should I see every single one who died as my loved one? I believe that is the root of this whole matter. The Qur’an is clear as daylight in this, where AllahY said:

Ma’aida 5: 32 …. if anyone killed a person not in retaliation for murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.

‘Retaliation’ refers to the judge sentencing a murderer to death after due process of law and is not license for vigilante action. Killing one innocent person; no matter his/her faith, race, ethnicity, gender, color or anything else; is equal in Islam to wiping out all mankind. And saving one life is equal to saving all mankind. What can be clearer than this? It doesn’t matter if the one killed or saved was Muslim or anything else. The Qur’an says, ‘person’ i.e., human life. That is the most important and first principle in Islamic jurisprudence and takes precedence over everything else. That is what makes what is normally Haraam (prohibited), Halal (permissible), if it is necessary to save human life. There is no right in Islam which supercedes this right to life for everyone, which is the duty of everyone else to guarantee, directly or indirectly. It was on this basis that at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Muslim scholars and jurists across the world advised the shutting of mosques and directed Muslims to pray the Juma (Friday) congregational prayer in their homes. They did this even though the congregational prayer on Fridays is mandated in the Qur’an and is compulsory and obligatory. They did it based on potential danger to human life being the primary consideration. They did it because Rasoolullahﷺ advised us: “The plague (contagion) patient who remains in his home with patience and expectation of reward, knowing that nothing will befall him other than Allah’s decree will attain the reward of a martyr.” [Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]

My question to Americans is, ‘How many more must die before we understand that sanctity of human life must take precedence over everything else in a civilized society? Does the body count justify our obsession with guns?’

I believe it is not guns but something deeper and more malignant. Because guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

The problem is that we have created a society that is based on worship of the self. Our supreme law is, ‘I like it, so it is good.’ What that thing means to others, how it may affect them, whether others like what I like or not, is not something that I am prepared to consider. In our society sale and consumption of alcohol is legal though according to WHO, in the period since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic globally, 6 million people died from it while 7 million died due to consumption of alcohol. We worship ourselves to the extent that nobody is allowed to tell us what to do and that includes God. We have raised desire to the level of a deity that we worship. We tolerate violations of the law if our ‘friends’ do them and scream blue murder when someone else does the same thing. In any language, that’s called hypocrisy. In our language that is called virtue.

We have childish notions that criminals are victims of their upbringing, childhood conditioning and whatnot, especially if those criminals belong to a favored group. They must not be blamed. Blame their childhood, their parents, circumstances, God, anyone but them. They must be handled gently. I ask you, ‘What about those that this ‘poor child’ decided to murder? What was their fault?’ While the parents of dead children, the husbands, wives, children, and parents of innocent victims of Buffalo, Uvalde, and countless other places are trying to grapple with their demolished world, we stand around and ‘send our thoughts and prayers’ to them and consider the job done. What does that even mean? Send thoughts and prayers? How? Fedex? USPS? What is the meaning of ‘sending thoughts and prayers’? If you can send them, send them to lawmakers. Send them to those who are in the picture holding up signs supporting unfettered gun ownership where an adolescent who is not considered old enough to buy beer is sold a long rifle without a thought. Send those thoughts to them if you think they do any good. Seriously people, the solution to mass shootings is not more guns. It is not having armed security guards; teachers toting guns and single entry and exit doors. What’s next? Children with guns in their backpacks? Time to wake up. This is not about mental health. America is not an outlier in mental illness. It is an outlier in permitting adolescents to buy and carry deadly weapons without restrictions. It is an outlier in the way it shows how much respect it has for the lives of its own children. No other country (except Brazil) comes close. Just ask how all those countries in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, and other parts of Continental America have schools which don’t have bullet proof windows and Rambo at the door. What is it that they are doing right and what are we doing wrong? It is not a mystery. If only we open our eyes.

I quote from this article, “In most states, people can legally buy assault-style weapons before they can drink a beer. Federal law stipulates that gun stores and other licensed dealers may not sell a handgun to anyone under the age of 21, but they can sell long guns — i.e., rifles and shotguns — to anyone who is at least 18, according to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Violence.”

In our society it is natural for children to grow up with one parent, no parent, cognitively or emotionally impaired parents, or absent parents. It is common for a child to step off the school bus, let himself into his home, feed and entertain himself until his parent or parents show up. We call them latchkey kids. Is that child happy about this situation? We don’t know or care until in his adolescence he walks into a gun store and buys an automatic (or semi) weapon, more ammo than a soldier carries in battle and blows out the lives of dozens of children like himself. But in our society, it is not ‘nice’ to criticize this kind of parenting.

Our children go to schools where ‘discipline’ is a bad word which is supposed to negatively impact their self-esteem. What is self-esteem except in most cases, an inflated sense of self-importance? What is the position of humility in our society? Another bad word. Another relic of our past. Of course, we won’t mention that in that past which we want to forget, there were no mass shootings. We are compelled to accept behavior in schools which we know is disruptive, if not outright destructive to learning, but we dare not speak out against it. We have created a fantasy world in which we seem to believe that there is no cost to bad behavior. We have forgotten that the world runs by laws created by its Creator. Some we call the laws of physics. Others are laws of behavior, which are equally implacable and impartial. All laws have consequences. Ignoring the law merely means that you will not be prepared to protect yourself from its consequences. This is something that we must do as a society. Live by the principles that discipline is good. Self-esteem is the result of effort, not the natural consequence of being alive. We must support each other by helping one another to overcome weaknesses and problems. Not by pretending that they don’t exist, much less by normalizing them.

We must punish violations because we respect those who obey the law and are entitled to its protection, more than those who break the law and claim immunity from its consequences. We must throw away the feel-good theories. That includes doing away with extravagant praise for ordinary good effort or behavior. Saying, “WOW! Jason, that is awesome,” is not awesome. If ordinary work is labeled ‘awesome’, what’s the motivation to do more or better? Yes, discipline sucks. Suck it up. You want to know if you will succeed in life? See if you make your bed when you wake up in the morning. That is a better indicator of your potential to succeed in life than any psychometric test that gives you results that look good on paper. It may hurt to tell your family and friends the truth about their behavior and let them pay the price. But it will hurt a lot more and a lot more people will be hurt if they never learn.

As I write this, I am reminded of what a psychiatrist friend told me. He said, ‘I have in my waiting room people who are highly suicidal, addicted to substance abuse. They openly talk about wanting to kill others. Pathologically depressed.’ Would you be surprised to hear this? Neither was I. Until he told me that those ‘people’ are 7- and 8-year-old children. This is the result of our parenting. This is the society we have created and which we continue to support and remain silent about in the name of ‘freedom’. Freedom from what? For whom? To do what? It seems so futile to try to convince people about something which is so self-evident and obvious. We have a major parenting problem. Children need attention, love, caring, discipline, values, morals. Children need attention, love, caring, discipline, values, morals. They need parents who can be role models for them for all of these. Children need parents they can look up to. Not down on. Is that happening? How can we make it happen? I write with hope because despair in Haraam.

There were 693 mass shootings (where 4 or more people died) in the US in 2021. I checked and found that the days in 2021 were still 365. Do the math.

Last year (2021), 21,000 people died because of gun violence in America. Does this body count justify whatever so-called ‘right’ we think we are upholding? The signs in the picture with this article are ludicrous to say the least. Victims??? Who is the real victim? In a society where our taxes pay for law enforcement, why must we carry guns to defend ourselves? I am not against gun ownership, just as I am not against car ownership. I am against unfettered ownership of something which has the potential to destroy the lives of others in the hands of someone who is not capable of handling it. If a mature, mentally stable person without a criminal record, trained to handle a weapon, wants to own a gun for hunting or a small arm for personal safety because of the special circumstances he/she may be living in let them do so. But what is the justification for an automatic weapon being sold to someone who is mentally unstable or sick, has a criminal record and is highly likely to use that weapon to kill others, only because we will not accept background or medical checks?

I wonder if any of those holding the signs, also held the body of their little child, dead from a bullet in the heart shot by someone like themselves, who believed in the unfettered right to bear arms. What more can I say?

Mirza Yawar Baig is the founder and President of Yawar Baig & Associates; an international leadership consulting organization. He can be reached at [email protected]

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