Licensed to Fire?
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he recent incident about the accidental gunfire in which one person succumbed to serious head injury and two others sustained bullet wounds while witnessing a gun salute being accorded to the CM who was attending a festival in a particular village should be viewed as a wakeup call by every sensible citizen as well as by the government. In what was supposed to be an event of public celebration the tragic mishap backfired and converted the incident into an occasion of mourning for the families of the victim and the community.
Before the shockwave of this shuddering story simmers down completely, while the wound is still fresh in the mind of everyone, it is pertinent to ask ourselves a few questions. Is gun culture originally our traditional Naga culture? Is gun salute the most appropriate form of salutation a civil society ought to give to a civil minister? Even if one may find a way to explain, is there no better way to express our respect to our honorable guests than to resort to the archaic military style of blank firing in the sky? The military personnel are trained in handling military weapons therefore, they are entitled to have their own way in a military context. A civil society, on the other hand, is expected to observe civil program in a civil and civilized manner.I am of the opinion that welcome and farewell salutes with gunshots is foreign to the traditional Naga culture. Over the past few decades, the Naga society has uncritically gulped down many cultures and beliefs that are totally alien and hostile to our own welfare and wellbeing. Gun culture is one such example. Even before we begin to realize how fast its harmful effect has boomeranged on us, we continue to think that observance of traditional festivals and other social occasions of celebration, including the church sponsored New Year Day program, is considered incomplete without the accompaniment of fireworks and firepower. Today, festive occasions have turned out to be a platform for people to brandish their guns of all made. For fear of being hit by stray bullets from the barrels of amateur shooters, some people opt to use their wisdom and remain indoor during such fanfare.
Every year a large number of unaccounted people are being shot in hunting expeditions and other accidental misfire and shootouts. So widespread has become the use of gun that hunting is no longer safe even for hunters. Most of the time such tragic occurrences are left unreported and are settled outside the legal courtroom among the members involved in the act.
The most common excuse offered by most culprits in such situation is to fix responsibility on the evil spirit who allegedly bewitches their eyesight, and thereby evade legal prosecution. For a generation that has come of age, I think a superstitious explanation like this is too cheap an idea for anyone to buy. In reality, it is the defective vision of human eyes and the inexperienced hands of the person who is the ultimate culprit. It takes sharp eyesight, physical fitness and training for a person to be able to handle a gun. With the proliferation of gun at the present rate, unless we start to regulate its use and stop the habit of passing the buck, tragedy is bound to strike any one anytime.
The gun is as useful a weapon in the hands of a trained and responsible person as it is dangerous in the hands of a wrong person. Sadly, this handy device is often in the hands of illegal users who do not possess a certified license and who are either under aged or over aged. When it finds its way into the hands of persons who are mentally unstable, the consequence can be devastating. The licensing authority and law enforcing agencies should see that guns are sold only to the right persons only after proper verification, and only the authorized persons should use them for the right purpose. In this way, we can minimize the possibility of putting innocent lives into unnecessary jeopardy.
Rümatho Nyusou, SBS, Zubza