Killing of teenaged driver

Published December 5, 2017

GIVEN our pervasive gun culture, it is no surprise that society has suffered fatalities, trauma and injuries caused by shootings including everyday firearm-related violence. This unchecked gun culture is the reason behind the fatal shooting of a teenaged driver on Sunday morning in the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident near Karachi’s Clifton beach.

According to reports, when an 18-year-old student driving a Mercedes hit a motorcyclist and failed to stop, he was chased by armed men in an SUV. Although the biker survived, his friends fired several rounds of bullets killing the young driver on the spot and injuring another passenger.

Though there is no justification for not stopping after hitting a vehicle, it is the fear of frenzied mobs known to assault those behind the wheel, whether or not they are at fault, that keeps many drivers from halting.

In this incident, while the police have apprehended the culprits who have confessed to their crime, the question of gun-control measures, and the non-implementation of stringent controls for the use, licensing, display and possession of guns has come to the fore.

This utterly senseless shooting and incidents of similar gun violence (the Shahzeb Khan murder in 2012), where perpetrators are young men easily provoked into violence, raises several points.

First, in certain incidents lax parental control is partly to blame when young people have access to guns — especially disturbing is when adults protect young perpetrators of violent acts.

Secondly, with an ill-equipped and overstretched security apparatus, the government is clearly hesitant to implement existing rules curbing unnecessary gun use. Consider here the thuggish, private armed ‘militias’ accompanying politicians, state ministers, feudal families and such, displaying their weapons and harassing ordinary citizens.

Meanwhile, clamping down on fake gun licences and conducting stringent background checks, including mental and drug testing for gun permits, is imperative. Eliminating gun culture when gun laws are openly flouted is a complex but necessary task if society is to be protected from violent and illegal ‘retribution’.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2017

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