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What if each one of us possessed a gun?

Nineteen eighty-two to 1990. The entire Ershad regime was an unbroken era for using and abusing firearms on the Dhaka University campus. I remember, on one sunny day in 1986, sitting on TSC lawn, a friend of ours whispered in our ears that he had borrowed a revolver from a leader for one day. He, with an apple-reddish hue on his face due to the existence of a gun in his backpack, wanted to show the weapon to us.
We became equally excited and wanted to have a look at the revolver. Almost all, about ten of us went into the lavatory one by one, and held the gun in our hands. It was a usable one without any bullets.
The reason for our excitement was that we had noticed some kind of smart arrogance among hundreds of students who we knew who carried fire arms all the time. It almost became a fashion at that time. The gun owners looked fearless to us; they didn’t care about anybody on earth.
Maybe each one of us had some kind of aspiration of putting up that kind of confident look on us.
In the mid-1980s, I lived in the district of my nanabari where a mind-boggling kind of criminalized leftist campaign was experiencing its last days. Every week, we saw the police recovering at least one body of a so-called comrade, lying on the street, who was shot dead by his unidentified rival.
In those days, all those comrades possessed firearms, but many couldn’t prevent their own deaths despite having a gun. Their guns couldn’t protect them, as the guns of the killers may have been faster.
Let me also remind you that during our days at the university, most people who died on campus didn’t have any weapons to protect themselves.
It was at that time that the thought of everyone owning a gun occurred to me.
At that time, as a student of literature, I noticed that many of the epics, novels, and plays in our studies contained gruesome wars, genocides, and many social crimes in which weapons were used. In wars, only soldiers had weapons, fighting against other armed soldiers. But, sadly, after the war was won, when the victors ran brutal devastations in the kingdom that lost, it was the common people — unarmed — who became subject to rape and genocide.
I used to think at that time: Would that brutality have taken place if each and every one of the common people had possessed weapons? Maybe not.
However, the question doesn’t get answered here. The recent deaths of 40-odd persons during the union parishad elections tell a different story. Half of those 40 died of bullets from their opponents. We still don’t know whether members of both the conflicting groups possessed firearms and used them against each other.
Two points are quite clear here: Political workers require guns in order to establish their own hegemony and, at the same time, the law enforcers also require guns in order to prevent those guns at the hands of the political workers from causing harm.
Let’s forget politics and wars for a while. We also observe many humans being murdered by other humans, with the tools used in these killings being firearms. One can kill quickly when s/he
uses a gun.
Now, what if the deceased persons had also possessed guns? Would the killers have the courage to confront the person they wanted to kill? Maybe. In that case, it would be an open-ended duel.
Guns are allowed for the common people to possess for individual safety and security. If you look at other countries, especially America, almost all the people are allowed to buy firearms if one could just afford the cost of the weapon. In countries like ours only the rich can possess guns. The gun laws enacted as well as pricing of guns are fixed in such a way that the poor cannot afford guns.
To my mind, a gun is a symbol of cruelty and it is used for preventing other forms of cruelties which we term as “crime”. I dream of a gunless environment where the society, as an institution, would be mature enough to stay away from bloodshed accruing from the use of firearms.
Now, what if no one has any firearms? Humans would still engage in conflicts and use their physical strength to express their innate cruelty against those who may be weaker.
Imagine only some have guns. For example, the law enforcers possess them legally, and some humans possess illegal weapons. I think they are privileged. They have the tool to rape, murder, beat, and cripple any person, and the potential victim won’t have a chance to respond.
What if everyone has a gun? Would there be an equal distribution of strength? Would all of us start committing crimes? See, whether it’s a man, a woman, or a child, it won’t matter anymore. If all women are allowed to possess firearms, they would be able to prevent the rapes they might have experienced from the male assailants.
It doesn’t matter how well we can box, but what ammunition we use. Everyone has a gun and we all start minding our own business. When someone attacks me, I would be ready to prevent it. The gun economy will also strengthen.
Now, which reality would you vote for, dear readers? This discussion may sound crazy to a great extent, but the discussion is there — globally. And I would request you to participate in the discourse. It may have a positive impact on the psyche of the minds of the people who may be waiting out there to commit gun-related crimes.
First published in Dhaka Tribune on 27 November 2021.

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