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To people from other countries, where buying a gun is a big deal and requires a plethora of permissions, this is truly baffling. Most of us ‘foreigners’ would not even contemplate buying a gun. What the heck do we need it for? Protection: against whom? Petty criminals and muggers don’t come after us with handguns: it’s just as difficult for them to get one as it is for law abiding citizens. Every time there is a tragedy, like the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech, there is a hue and cry about having a re-look at gun control laws: but nothing happens. Incident after incident takes place, of some disgruntled employee striding into his place of work and shooting indiscriminately: but nothing happens: There was a justified uproar after the Columbine school massacre: but nothing happened. Won’t we ever learn? Some would argue that controls are in place; citing the Brady Bill, for example. What controls; and how effective are they? Sure, the gun seller is required to do a ‘background check’ on the purchaser, before making the sale. Let’s get real here. The guy running a gun store is interested in getting rid of his inventory; preferably at a decent profit. He cannot second guess what the purchaser intends to do with the handgun; nor does he want to. The law requires him to verify whether the buyer has a rap sheet; and that is all he does. Is that really a deterrent? Let’s face it. The overwhelming majority of folks who walk into a store to buy a gun do not have criminal records. They are normal law abiding citizens, like you and me. So you cannot stop them from owning a gun. It’s enshrined in the Constitution, for Pete’s sake. But what happens when one of those ‘normal law abiding citizens’ goes sick in the head, like that student at Virginia Tech. It’s too late, then, to bemoan the fact that he was able to lay his hands on a gun. Why shouldn’t he? It’s so damn easy. So is there a quick fix? Of course not. Ideally, every person wanting to buy a gun should be required to first undergo a psychiatric evaluation, to determine his suitability to own one. But that would be quite impractical; and would probably put off most people intending to buy guns - too much bother, not to mention invasion of privacy and all that stuff. Exactly! It should be too much of a bother. It should be difficult and a pain-in-the-ass to buy a gun. It’s not that inconceivable. Most of the rest of the world makes it difficult. In India, for example, the average citizen would not even know where to go to buy a gun; and he certainly would not be able to get one over the counter. He would need to wade through a morass of red tape first. Owning a gun is a big deal. Do you suppose individual liberties and constitutional rights mean didley-squat, right now, to the parents of the young students, whose lives were so needlessly and indiscriminately snuffed out at Virginia Tech? You do not need to invade a country to find them: a handgun or rifle in the hands of a mentally unstable individual is a weapon of mass destruction. For God’s sake! Let something happen this time.