Yesterday, students around the United States participated in a national walk in support and solidarity to those who have lost their lives to gun violence, especially those who have died as a result of school shootings.
Exactly one month ago, the deaths as a result of gun violence in Parkland, Florida caused a wave of advocacy from students demanding safer learning environments, one that poses mass restrictions to the use of automated weapons.
Nonetheless, this is not the first time this has been a topic of conversation within the United States. There have been several mass shootings in the United States, that have garnered significant attention from the media, so much so that those outside the borders can name them.
Every time we have to add another city or school to this list, politicians make a point of avoiding taking real policy action and instead hide behind the Second Amendment. This inaction causes us to as whether the role of violence is entrenched in the United States constitution,
The notion of violence as part of the mass populist movement is common, but the specific way that these acts of violence are handled in United States are representative of a larger, more dangerous politically polarized climate.
First, there is the rise of shootings, and not just with handheld guns, but automated weaponry. Take the most recent Parkdale example. A former student suffering from mental illness was able to obtain an AR-15 rifle, kill 17 students, and wound many more. This was the 18th school shooting in the United States this year.
The frightening reality is the ability to exploit this event to further promote the use of guns. President Trump has argued for more gun use by arming teachers, and having them be responsible for gun use. From his perspective, this is a way to both respect the Second Amendment and keep children safe.
This narrative is further advanced by the National Rifle Association, a non-profit organization that lobbies the US government in order to protect and defend the Second Amendment. In the 2016 election, Republican candidates received over one million dollars for their campaigns, thus enticing them to bypass policy discussions on the topic. The protection of one’s political status in the face of tragedy like gun violence, without the willingness to adapt this legislation is wrong, and frankly, a lamentable notion.
Moreover, the ability of the students and teachers to mobilize against institutionalized gun violence demonstrates the desire to change firearm culture in the U.S. Again, using the Parkdale example, students have been spreading the word, whether on the news, rallying in the streets, and using social media to mobilize other students across the country and globe.
The National School Walk Out is not the first action against gun violence in schools. There have been other responses to previous school shootings. It is also the pre-emptive measure to the ‘March for Our Lives’, a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 24th. This march represents the ability to demonstrate the strong public opinion favouring better gun control. Those who choose to be influenced by narratives that promote violence will maintain that power if there is no action.
Speaking a student myself, as part of the larger student collective, we need to take action in order to stay safe. We need action. We’ll start walking, you start legislating.
Featured Image from the Huffington Post