American inaction on gun control has deep roots

The cowboy icon and distrust of government explain Americans' penchant for guns

Demonstrators advocating the rights of gun owners staging a counter-protest near a March For Our Lives rally last Saturday in Killeen, Texas. The March For Our Lives events, organised by survivors of the Feb 14 Florida school shooting, call for legis
Demonstrators advocating the rights of gun owners staging a counter-protest near a March For Our Lives rally last Saturday in Killeen, Texas. The March For Our Lives events, organised by survivors of the Feb 14 Florida school shooting, call for legislative action to address gun violence.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Days after the Valentine's Day shooting that left 17 dead at a Florida secondary school, Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said in a Facebook post: "It baffles me that people are freely allowed to buy submachine guns in an urban environment."

American inaction against gun violence also baffles students in courses I teach at Nanyang Technological University. Why doesn't the American government just stop the carnage, they ask.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2018, with the headline 'American inaction on gun control has deep roots'. Subscribe