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March 26, 2018 | by  | in News |
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#neveragain… Well, Maybe Just Once More?

CW: gun violence

Americans have a bit of a thing for guns – and apparently for using them on school children – with 17 youngsters killed in a hail of gunfire in February.


Now after such an event you’d assume there would be a period of deep introspection by the powers that be, to find out what had gone so wrong as to lead to this. The Port Arthur massacre in 1996 Australia saw the government enact comprehensive gun law reforms. The Dunblane massacre in the UK (also in 1996) also led to tighter controls on handgun ownership.

America, however, seems to be intent on proving that gun violence can be solved the American Way: with more guns. President Trump and various other lawmakers across the country have actually floated the idea that the best way to protect schools is to arm school teachers.  Now I remember my school days, and students have a penchant for upsetting teachers. I would find it hard to blame them for pointing a Glock at little Timmy and telling him to sit down, shut up, and stop flicking snot across the room.

Since 2000 there’s been on average 6.4 mass shootings a year in the US; the 17 killed last month were the latest in a long line of heinous attacks on civilians. The blood is barely dry from the last massacre, when 37 were murdered in Las Vegas last October.

The onus has fallen to the victims of these attacks to blaze a trail in trying to correct the Government’s course. With the #neveragain movement, thousands of school children from New York, Washington, and beyond staged walkouts on 14 March in protest of the Government’s policy of masterful inactivity.

Alas, I don’t remain hopeful. With the common riposte being “why should children dictate my gun laws?”, Fox News presents a veritable gold mine of “helpful” comments on the matter, labelling the movement as little more than a cover for those sneaky liberals pushing their “anti-gun agenda,” a suitably glib remark only the dinosaurs at Fox could make.

In fairness to the Government, the gun lobby is powerful. During the 2016 election cycle alone, the National Rifle Association (NRA) donated roughly $54 million to Republican politicians. Something I can’t fault in and of itself; as it is an established part of American democracy for political parties to receive donations from banks and companies looking to further their agenda such as the NRA and Big Pharma. The only difference being that Goldman Sachs isn’t trying to make it as easy as possible for every man and his dog to buy weaponry.Screenshot 2018-03-25 14.15.32Image: A cabinet containing a gun, reading “In case of emergency, break glass”.

In principle, I’m not anti-gun. I myself enjoy rifle shooting (albeit shooting at inanimate targets, not children), but unlike the gun lobby, I don’t consider guns to be a “fundamental right” — because they aren’t. Gun ownership is a privilege, and as such should be earned, not given to any crackpot. It baffles the mind.

I mean, I understand the concept of the Second Amendment in its historical context – the whole keeping the King of Britain off your back thing – but conflating a musket with an assault rifle is one of the most asinine ideas I have heard.


On 22 February Marco Rubio, Florida Senator and renowned gun nut, engaged in a town hall debate with survivors of the Florida school shooting in attendance.  17 year old Cameron Kasky did a sublime job of calling out the Senator on accepting cash from the NRA at the expense of innocent lives. He did, to his credit, make some minor concessions, admitting he would be rethinking his position on high capacity magazines which contain enough ammunition to potentially wipe out an entire grade.

 

Trump has made some token gestures such as potentially banning “bump stocks”, an accessory that allows a semi-automatic to mimic a full-auto, increasing background checks, raising the minimum age to buy guns, and banning “assault-style” guns. He has also held “listening sessions” with high school survivors of gun violence. My concern with these gestures are that they seem to be a load of shit. Firstly, they are a wish-list, which doesn’t mean any of these will necessarily become law. Secondly, the majority of these are token changes, akin to putting a band-aid on a severed artery. Raising the age is unlikely to make much difference if a kid steals the keys to daddy’s gun cabinet after daddy’s had a few.
I am not hopeful that any progress will arise from the protests currently rocking America, but I would be happy to be proven wrong. It should be a given, living in the country dubbed the  “defender of the free”, to be able to live without the fear of seeing your friends killed while you’re meant to be learning something dreary, like maths.

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