Guns are a problem, not a solution

The solution to insecurity is not to increase the number of weapons but to limit them.

Zainab Imam June 18, 2011
Pakistani journalists have been allowed to carry guns to protect themselves. This brilliant solution has been offered by none other than Interior Minister Rehman Malik who has, in the past, offered many such pearls of wisdom, particularly over the unabated spate of target killings in Karachi.

There is evidence enough that journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in Pakistan. In a recent statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan the tenth most dangerous place in the world for journalists to work and, according to the International Federation of Journalists, five journalists have died in Pakistan in the first six months of this year.

But will carrying guns really make journalists any more secure in the future than they are in Pakistan today? Just this year, the deaths have occurred in circumstances that a gun would never have been able to prevent.

Arguably the most revolting death was the brutal case of journalist Saleem Shahzad who was reported missing from Islamabad on May 30 and within 24 hours, his body was found in Mandi Bahauddin with marks of torture. Would he have been able to protect himself if he had had a gun?

A number of journalists were among the victims of this past weekend’s twin bombing in Peshawar’s Khyber Supermarket. One journalist lost his life and one was critically injured and is fighting for his life. Would they have been able to protect themselves if they had had guns?

So will carrying guns really make the job any easier, at least in terms of security? The country is becoming increasingly insecure, not just for journalists but for the people at large. Kidnappings for ransom and street crime are as rampant as target killings and suicide bombings. Does that mean that every citizen of Pakistan should be allowed to carry a gun for protection?

More weapons are not an answer because guns do not save lives. The solution to insecurity is not to increase the number of weapons but to decrease them. If A tries to shoot B and B shoots A in self-defence, the net effect will be loss of life, not more security.
Zainab Imam A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam ( and blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Abu Abdullah | 13 years ago | Reply If the police cant provide protection to me i will do it my self. on the other hand if we look at the statistics from the US where some states such as Texas have no restriction (apart from proof of Legit age),the gun crime rates are very low. So every one carries a gun, i would think twice before pointing a gun out at some body else.
Zakir Hussain | 13 years ago | Reply More weapons are not an answer because guns do not save lives. Agreed!! But, as; Weapons simply define power. And, If power is used when necessary, and where necessary, can surely save lives. As far as 'unwillingly equipped', Journalists are concerned. Having a gun is as much an easier task as having a novel written by, 'Khalil Gibran' :P. Whereas, application of it for Journalists in a country like Pakistan where destruction comes before warning is way harder than becoming Khalil Gibran itself.
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