Unprovoked acid attacks plague Europe

Columnist Jana Duncan 

Columnist Jana Duncan 

Metropolitan Police based in London reported 455 incidents in 2016 where attackers used corrosive substances as a weapon, according to The New York Times,. With acid attacks becoming an increasing problem in Europe, the question of terrorism comes to mind. With guns used in many of the tragedies heard in the news and the controversy over gun rights in America raging on, how are we to protect ourselves from common household items?

A reporter for the National Public Radio interviewed one victim of an acid attack named Samir Hussain from London.,  “When it touches your face, your face feels like it’s going flat because it’s actually sort of disintegrating. And I could just feel my skin just ripping away,” said Hussain, who was ambushed outside of a movie theater with sulfuric acid. In this incident, Hussain said he didn’t know his attacker and did not provoke the incident. 

The idea that anyone should have to live with the effects of such a heinous act for no reason is bone chilling. To think that such an action could be used as a terrorist weapon is paralyzing. 

In the interview, NPR stated that gangs are just one faction to abuse this epidemic of acid attacks. According to USA Today, there is a reason for gangs to choose such a unique weapon. By using acid as a weapon, it is more likely that one will earn more minor charges and will be harder to convict because the DNA is harder to trace. 

Gun control in America is highly debated and the law places several restrictions on gun owners. With the disagreement over how to legislate a more obviously deadly weapon, how would the government handle the control of a typical cleaning supply?

Some are demanding British Parliament put tighter restrictions on the purchase of “strong acid products,” said USA Today, and The New York Times adds that officials want tougher sentences for the criminals. But again, while this is important and the government needs to handle it, what will it do and how long will that take?

While this may seem distant to those in the States, the problem is reaching closer to home than one might think.

Violence of this nature has happened in the United States, according to USA Today. They cite two incidents occurring in Arizona and Washington. In addition to this chaos on American soil, recently four American students who were visiting France were maliciously targeted in an acid throwing attack.

The attacker assaulted the four girls, juniors from Boston College, at a train station earlier this month. According to The New York Times, the suspect is a 41-year-old woman who has a “psychiatric history” and is not linked as a terrorist. Thankfully, reports say the four girls are fine after receiving care for their wounds at Boston College.

An important part of my high school experience was being able to travel abroad. From my experiences, I was able to immerse myself in different cultures to enrich my studies in Spanish, as well as broaden my view of the world beyond my backyard. I think it is important that a student be able to study abroad if one so chooses and learn from more than what a classroom could teach.

I think that students and their parents should consider these options without the fear that they could be permanently scarred from someone who possess corrosive substances. Whatever the law does, I hope it is settled sooner rather than later so this does not grow into a global pandemic. 

For Samir Hussain, his assailant was given eight years in prison but Hussain said, “I got a life sentence… So should he.”