A woman holds sign advocating for gun control while marching with Moms Demand Action against gun violence contingent in San Francisco June 26th 2016. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters
As we’re all aware, another mass school shooting tragically occurred on 14th February inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida resulting in the death of 17 people. This is now the 18th school shooting during 2018 in the US. We were only 45 days into the year and there had already been 18 mass shootings. At this point, these shootings are practically being treated as an inevitability, with more measures being implemented regarded what to do WHEN a shooting occurs than measures being enforced to prevent such devastating events from occurring.
Donald Trump took to twitter to offer his, rather listless, condolences earlier this week. Note, it was pointed out on twitter, that he has only dedicated 5 tweets to mass shootings over his entire presidential reign yet felt compelled to dedicate 22 tweets solely to football players taking the knee during the national anthem. Just a subtle nod towards the President’s distorted priorities. Furthermore, in the televised speech he gave when visiting the victims of the shooting, the lack of compassion and sympathy was practically psychopathic. The most empathetic description of the event that he could muster was that it was ‘sad’ and throughout the interview he failed to address the definitive issue at hand entirely; that being gun control. He went on to write ‘no child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school’. The irony is implausible. 9 out of 10 schools in the US run shooting drills. Children are being taught to survive mass shootings as if they are an inevitability. Children are learning that if they leave their place of learning each day alive that they should feel blessed to have survived. What a terrifying reality to be inflicting on the children of America as a result of the negligence of the US government.
We can be thankful living in the UK that gun laws are so tight, unlike the overly accommodating laws in the US. Just imagine the scale of attacks, such as the London Bridge attack back in June, if our laws didn’t prohibit accessibility to weapons of mass murder. I, for one, feel lucky enough to not be living in daily fear of being gunned down in cold blood whilst going about my everyday life. There has not been a single mass shooting in the UK since 2010. However, disturbingly, almost ⅓ of all mass shootings occur in the US and I most certainly do not believe it’s any coincidence considering their leniency on gun ownership. The figures are so painstakingly clear that it’s hard to grasp the cretinous arguments supporting the continuation of such lean processes by which to obtain a gun. Change the narrative, break the cycle; guns are not a necessity. They are not imperative for survival and ‘protection’. You need protection because lunatics are able to get their hands on these killing machines. I’m not saying that these monsters won’t find other ways to potentially carry out their actions, but why is it being made so easy for them? I’d love to see people attempt to reach the same scale of murder, produce the same devastating death toll, with a knife, a brick or a hammer. Take away the weapon, lower the chances. It’s time for action. It’s time for change. It’s time to finally make it difficult for the lunatics to slaughter people.
A quote I found read ‘strong gun laws do not prevent violence, only good citizens prevent violence’ and I wholeheartedly disagree. Of course, without these monstrous people these terrible acts wouldn’t occur, period. However, in the real world tragedies do happen which are only accommodated by the possession of guns. Monsters kill people and guns allow them to. The scale of these killings is amplified and facilitated by laws written in 1791. Over 200 years ago. Back when women were seen as property, black people were dehumanised whilst being kept as slaves and homosexuals were jailed and murdered. Society’s development over 200 years has led to a World wholly departed from that in which the founders lived. This is not to say that progress isn’t most certainly still needed in almost all of these areas still today. Still America continues to uphold and accommodate an outdated law that, quite frankly, poses absolutely no purpose except to generate profit for the government and their chums at the NRA..
As I have been writing this article over the last week, a wide range of, what I would label barbaric and ludicrous ideas have been posed, once again, by the president himself. The latest suggestion for dealing with the ‘sicko shooters’ is to equip teachers with guns. The United States has the 10th most unintentional deaths involving firearms of 75 countries and has the 11th most deaths per 100,000 people per year. Now just imagine how much that rate would increase by if we place guns inside every school across America. Just imagine the amount of accidental deaths that could occur as a result of panic from a shooting false alarm. Teachers, whose purpose is to educate children, will be forced to put their life at risk by attempting to confront the killer; should there actually be one. And what happens if someone is mistaken for the shooter? What happens amidst the panic if they shoot from fear and it turns out to be another innocent victim? Not only do we increase the death toll but imagine the guilt of that teacher, imagine the pressure forced upon them. This is not the role they signed up for. It has been shown that the cost to equip and train just ‘the best 20% of teachers’, as Donald Trump requested, would be $23.2 million. The government’s plan is to funnel endless sums of money into a flawed system. Instead of stripping away the problem, they propose that by escalating the availability of weapons they’ll create a safer school. But what you’re really doing is transforming the school into a shooting range. Encouraging people to fight fire with fire and we all know that in that scenario… everybody burns.
How about channeling that money into resources that could actually prevent these tragedies. With that money you could be helping the children that are clearly hamstrung by their mental illnesses, the underlying processes arguably causing these heinous acts. That money could fund more school psychologists and counsellors for schools. If we go off the report headlines about the shootings the majority of articles that I have read regarding Nikolas use headlines that seemingly attempt to evoke sympathy for the shooter in a, quite frankly, disrespectful and tasteless manner; the media’s distorted presentation regarding white criminals is for exploration in a separate article. But most have labelled him as being ‘troubled’ due to his upbringing as an orphan. If we are to draw a relationship between his ‘troubled’ past and the event that took place then maybe more resources dedicated to supporting children growing up from disturbed backgrounds need to be provided. But in my honest opinion, from articles I have read, the signs were all there but due to the societal importance that the US places on weaponry they are all too easy to miss. People reported that Nikolas used to take pictures of all his guns and even had pictures of dead animals that he had killed. Instant red flags for psychopathic behaviour by all accounts, especially coming from the perspective of a British citizen, as having such pride and fascination in weaponry and the senseless acts of killing animals in somewhere like Britain, where gun control is so tight, would absolutely warrant investigation. However, this was supposedly dismissed as irrational, but not deranged, behaviour and I would argue that that is due to the culture of violence that the US manifests due to the support for and the prevalence of gun ownership. In support of this, I even witnessed a video recently of a girl, whom I would say was roughly 14, crying in sheer happiness at receiving a gun as a present. Guns are being gifted as toys and being treated as such. Guns are not fun, nor are they necessary and perceptions need to be adapted to view these killing machines as the dangerous instruments that they are.
If the US is so fixated on the preservation of gun ownership, then it’s time for a re-evaluation: raise the legal buying age, lengthen the process, implement more stringent rules, create more rigorous mental assessments. This isn’t about banning guns this is about gun control. It’s time for change, to question the laws and the protection in place and the motivation for the continued facilitation of mass murder. The time for control has come.
By Joanna Trigg