No rational adults?: US students take on gun control

Following the USA's most recent high school shooting, our writers discuss the urgent need for increased gun control

Joe Holloran
5th March 2018

On Valentine’s Day this year, a lone deranged individual entered a high school in Florida, USA, armed to the teeth and killed 17 students and staff. This Valentine’s Day Massacre has again brought the issue of gun-control back to the fore, and again people are asking why? How can the (allegedly) most advanced country on Earth allow these events to continue? The answer is an insidious mix of corruption and warped idealism.

According to an inside source, the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave over $27 million to the ten most pro-gun senators and congressmen in both houses in the same year. This is corruption. Plain and simple. There have been 32,540-gun related homicides in the USA since the beginning of 2016, according to recent statistical analysis. These Republican politicians, whom so often run their campaigns on ‘Family Values’ have determined that the lives of each of these individuals is worth around $3000 each. These scavengers of sorrow attempt to hide their avarice behind symbols and notions of patriotism, then accuse those who call for change as being un-patriotic and un-American. The notion of the lone-individual in the Wild West, gun at the ready, beyond the law, is so ingrained in their collective mindset, that to call for any form of change is seen as an affront to this paranoid view of what freedom is.

Under Trump there will be no change. The only hope lies with youth

American is a country founded upon ideals. Nothing is fixed, so long as the people can have their say. Well, now is the time for those people to make themselves truly heard. Since the Parkland massacre, students across America have begun to organise themselves on a mass-scale to force D.C. into action. They will not succeed alone, and I fear they will fail to find political allies. The Democratic Party has its sights set on winning back seats in Red districts in the up-coming midterms. They will not risk allowing their nominees to run on pro-gun control platforms, as this, in their perception, will anger the ‘average’ American and push them back into the arms of Trump. This is folly. Survey after survey of Americans shows consistently that the clear majority; between 70-83% support some form of tougher gun-control. It is almost impossible to receive a bigger mandate from the public for action. But, Democrats, like Republicans, have placed campaign donors ahead of their alleged constituents.

Under Trump there will be no change. The only hope lies with youth. Those who go to school today fearing for their lives will remember it always, and they will look to those among them for leadership and change. Few current senators can be trusted on the issue, but Bernie Sanders is one. Should he, or his ideological allies, win in 2020, then change will be swift. If not, then the young must keep up the pressure and fight the good fight for the sake of their children to come.

Joe Holloran

Although pertinent to a revolutionary-era America, the Second Amendment (the right of the individual to bear arms) was simply not created with the progression of gun technology in mind. Yet, politicians have achieved little in updating the country's gun regulations since the constitution was written up. The NRA and Republican's absolutist stance on the 200-year-old amendment has blocked almost every call for stricter regulatory laws from passing, leading to countless preventable tragedies as mass shootings have become the norm.

The fact of the matter is that the Second Amendment is a relic of the past and it should be treated as such. At the time it was written, a typical musket was more likely to scare off an opponent than actually hit the target, firing only a one bullet round three times a minute, within an accuracy range of fifty metres. The modern-day AR-15 rifle – the same gun used in Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting - is by contrast a killing machine, firing a thirty bullet round forty-five times a minute, with an accuracy range of five-hundred and fifty metres. You could say they are designed for mass shootings.

Countless preventable tragedies have become the norm

Despite this, Republicans and the NRA insist on derailing every call for updated gun regulation. Second Amendment absolutism is a dangerously effective manipulation tactic used to sway public opinion, intrinsically tying gun ownership to patriotism. To fully exercise one's rights as an American is to own a gun. In light of the NRA's overwhelming financial support towards the Republican party, this can be seen as nothing short of propaganda, a tool to keep gun lobbyers in the pockets of the right-wing party.

Perhaps it's understandable that so many Americans are afraid to have their guns taken away. You can't get rid of every gun in America overnight, but you can ensure that everyone has equal access to the same thing. But the reality is that easy access to guns and training didn't protect the seventeen victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. What it did do is ensure that the socially defected killer had no difficulty purchasing a military grade assault rifle. Until politicians start enforcing stricter regulations on the industry – beginning with background checks and regulation of high power assault rifles – history will continue to repeat itself, and more lives will be unnecessarily lost.

Amber Marwick

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