Gun control: Good guys v/s bad guys

Just yesterday my brother-in-law made a valid point. There is so much protection given to children here in the United States of America (USA). There are guards stationed near schools during opening and closing hours to guide traffic so that students can safely pass. All vehicles have to stop when there is a school bus ahead boarding children. School bus drivers can even give you a ticket if you break a traffic rule. This is scenario one.

And then you have the Newtown shooting massacre that killed 20 children. Scenario two.

So why is so much being done to protect children and then when it comes to guns, there seems to be a sense of oversight?

Some may say that protecting children and gun control are two separate issues. Agreed. But in the case of Sandy Hook they aren’t. A guy had a gun. He used it. Children died. Wouldn’t those children still be alive today if that guy did not have access to a gun? Of course they would be.

The question is as much about protecting children, as it is about allowing (or not) the common man to own a gun. In this case, the Newtown shooting is an example of what a gun can do.

We all know that the gun topic is a political one. There has been a lot of back and forth on the availability of guns, high-end ammunition, so on and so forth. So far there hasn’t been any clear and outright stand coming out of the annals of power about whether one should be allowed to have guns or not. Any question in this regard almost always refers to the National Rifle Association (NRA). Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said in an interview to TIME, “The NRA is only powerful if you and I let them be powerful.” This is where this issue takes on political colours. And we know there isn’t going to be a clear-cut solution any time soon.

No let us for a moment support guns. So that young guy walks into Sandy Hook Elementary with a gun. Then the principal pulls out her gun (let us assume she had one) and shoots down the guy, preventing the death of any of the students or teachers at the school. Well, it all sounds perfect on paper and in hindsight. But a gun for a gun isn’t the answer. The question should be whether Adam Lanza (or his mother, who was the license-holder) should have even had that gun in the first place.

There have been several supporters of gun ownership who have vociferously spoken about this. Most notably is radio host Alex Jones who appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. Jones said that the law that allows possession of firearms is to protect the American people from “tyrannical government and street thugs.” It’s a dangerous argument.

Here’s what I believe. A life lived in fear is not a life well-lived at all. It may sound philosophical, idealistic, call it what you may. What is the point of walking around in a shopping mall with a gun in your purse? Are you genuinely interested in buying new clothes or are you on the lookout for a predator with a gun who might go on a shooting spree?

There are good guys and there are bad guys. We cannot allow the possession of firearms in the hope that the good guys will get the bad guys. We cannot allow the usage of guns with the argument that the good guys are only protecting themselves. For every bad guy that’s killed, ten good guys have to die. That’s the way war works. And we cannot always be in war. It needs to stop some time. And that time is now.

The good guys will have to learn to live without guns, with the hope that the bad guys learn too.  And then they are no longer bad.

Neha Afreen Banu – Bruised & battered

I first saw her on April 9th. A beautiful baby. Fair skinned. Healthy looking. Ironic that she had several tubes coming out of her. A machine nearby beeped. The numbers read her heart rate and pulse.

It makes me want to cry.

As I spoke on my phone-in about the death of an almost three-month-old infant, Neha Afreen Banu, I could feel my eyes well up. I was following the baby’s story for three days and the end seemed to have come too soon.

From the very first day, I believed that Baby Afreen just like Falak should not survive. What kind of a life is this where you are pinning on hopes that a three-month-old would survive severe brain damage with tubes inserted into her? You would rather let her go to a better place.

What sort of a world is this where one would even remotely want to hurt a newborn? Afreen’s father reportedly fed her poison-laced biscuits, bit her on her back, and even smothered her with a pillow. It just makes no sense to me. What sort of a man is Umar Farooq for even having the audacity to harm a child? His own child? His own blood and genes? All because he wanted a son? All because of her gender? Didn’t you have to firstly marry a girl to even be able to have that child? And the gender of a child is determined by the chromosome of the male partner. I’m sure all this may mean very little to the man behind all this. The man who killed Afreen.

As I write this, the image of Reshma Banu, Afreen’s mother flashes through my mind. I can’t get the entire ‘hospital experience’ out of my head. The first day I met Reshma, she seemed a little confused. She made conflicting statements. I understand that there was a lot of pressure on her especially under the glare of the media. A 19-year-old (she looks much younger to me) would never have imagined all this trauma.

The next day when I met Reshma, she seemed more composed. Filled with hope. There seemed to be a new strength in her, and a will to fight for her battered baby. I even spoke to Reshma on Wednesday morning. She was calm and spoke clearly. The baby had blood in her stools, she said. I could feel how much she wanted this baby. Especially having had an abortion of her first pregnancy when she was carrying twins.

I had spoken to the doctor a while ago and she had stated that Afreen’s condition hadn’t changed. She had convulsions early that morning.

It was around half past 11 when we feared the worst. A little later I confirmed with the Medical Superintendent of the hospital that Afreen had suffered a cardiac arrest and was no more. Her frail body had given up. She had barely even lived.

I saw Reshma Banu a little later. She was inconsolable. Her hopes shattered. Her only baby dead. All reportedly because her husband wanted a male heir.

As I wrapped up my day and went home, I could only think of the tragedy that had befallen the family. They had gone through so much the past week. Even in their poor financial condition, they were doing everything they could for the little one. As opposed to Farooq’s family who were said to be better off financially, who did not even bother visiting the baby. They are absconding now.

Now that the cameras aren’t there and mics not shoved in their faces, my prayers are with Reshma Banu and her family. No words can console her grief. No hugs can calm her down. After all she has lost her baby.

My only hope now is that the perpetrators are punished severely. And innocent lives like Afreen are allowed to live a life of dignity, or not be brought into this world at all.