I am not an American citizen. I have never been to America. But I want tighter gun laws in America, now.
This is a topic I have found quite difficult to write about. One of the main problems I have found is I cannot comprehend the other side of the argument, why people need guns or should have access to them freely.
I hold that people are entitled to their own opinions, when it comes to almost anything in life apart from human rights. Women should be paid equally to men, everyone should be allowed to vote and you do not need an assault rifle in your local McDonalds.
The Parkland school shooting on Valentine’s Day is becoming an eerie echo throughout America’s modern history. According to the New York Times, since the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, there have been 239 school shootings nationwide* — with 438 people being shot, 138 of whom have died. (Not including shootings in nightclubs or sports venues, etc.) Yet it seems the US government is not willing to take the matter seriously.
After every school shooting the same conversations start happening. Always the same loud news stories about violent video games and too many young people watching films and TV shows aimed for older audiences. If only bullying was not a problem at the school and everyone got on well with each other. Mentally ill people want to buy a gun and kill your children.
No. Just no. Video games and films are proven not to be as big an issue (which, by the way, the same amount of violence is often shown on the news broadcasts nowadays) regarding desensitising people. Not all of these school shootings have mental health issues, some of them are just very disturbed and hateful individuals – however stigmatising people who suffer from mental health illnesses further by mass labelling is another problem altogether.
In a study held by the United States Secret Service that looked into the profiling of school shooters the results seemed to vary too wildly. According to the study, any profile could apply to any student and might not apply to any particular perpetrator. Some perpetrators were children of divorce, or lived in foster homes (i.e. broken homes), or came from traditional families. A few were loners, but most had close friends. In other words, anyone could be a shooter they just need a gun (well, duh).
Every time I hear an elected official give a statement to the press, particularly Donald Trump, my stomach knots. Every time they utter the words ‘my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims’ I want to vomit because I know nothing is going to change. An amount of time will pass and the same elected official will stand in front of the same reporters and say the same thing. Over and over again. Are they not tired of making the same address?
The easiest answer is no. They like the money and the support given by the National Rifle Association (NRA), it is easy to call on them come election time when your seat is up for grabs and you have grown accustomed to the butt-print you made in it.
In recent years we have heard other sides, the stories of the victims who text their parents from inside a toilet cubicle, the voices of survivors who have found out their friends are dead and want someone to talk to them rationally about what they witnessed. Emma Gonzales is an icon of empowerment for young people, a voice for the silenced and a symbol of change that is being demanded by the future generations of one of the biggest nations in the world.
I suppose that some people fear tighter and more controlled gun laws will out several already gun owners as being ‘too dangerous’ or ‘too mentally unwell’ to have access to a gun. Something that would mean a lot of people would have to have their guns taken away by government officials.
One reason some Americans will throw around, is the Second Amendment in the US Constitution, which is often misquoted as ‘every American has the right to bare arms’. However it turns out that the amendment is more directed at proceedings in case the British military were to return following the war for independence. Explaining that every American has the right to bare arms to form a militia to defend their homestead.
I’ll argue again. That does not mean you should be able to buy a gun in a Walmart next to the potato salad.
Recently it was asked whether teachers should have guns in schools. As though being a teacher was hard enough without having to mentally prepare to have to possibly defend you and your students from a person with a gun (someone who may actually be a student of yours). Several people have seen the problematic nature of this, as one Twitter user put; ‘Imagine being a black teacher when the police show up and see you holding a gun.’
The idea of teachers owning guns is seems almost ludicrous. If the building was on fire you would not add more fuel to try and extinguish it. All you are doing is putting a gun into a place where it is accessible again to a large range of people. What is stopping a student robbing the gun off of the teacher and using it?
We see though the power of young people scared to go to school everyday, the sense of danger seem to grow. The students and survivors of the Parkland shooting in Florida in February are helping lead the way to a safer tomorrow. They are campaigning, they are speaking out, they are trying to make a change in the world. Trying to save lives and move past what they have experienced.
Politicians and people in power need to change something. More needs to be done to safe guard children in the very place they should be feeling safe.
*as of date of article publication.
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