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July 2, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Shooting Kids for Freedom

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Guns kill kids. It’s a fact. You can dress up liberty in any fancy meme you like, but it doesn’t diminish the pile of bodies in a classroom.

Welcome to America. Where the Second Amendment right to bear arms has become the right to shoot kids. Last week 19 children and two teachers were gunned down at the Robb Elementary School in Ulvade, Texas. Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine more than 311,000 students have experienced gun violence. 169 people have died.  And still they don’t change their laws to keep children safe. The same place that has introduced ‘the heartbeat law’ where women can go to jail for having an abortion at seven weeks, won’t bring in regulations that might protect actual children from being gunned down at their desks. It’s difficult to fathom how absolutely broken a system can be until you look at America. How is it when more than half of Americans want gun control, the National Rifle Association continues to control the narrative? 

Guns kill kids. It’s a fact. You can dress up liberty in any fancy meme you like, but it doesn’t diminish the pile of bodies in a classroom. Or that a little girl survived by covering herself in the blood of her classmates. All week I couldn’t stop thinking about what it must be like to live in the US with school shootings an established ‘risk’ of sending your kids to school.

I feel for those families who send their kids to school worrying that they might be shot. We live in a country that did bring in strict rules around gun control – we saw that it worked. That sort of fear is not part of our social contract.  Most parents worry their kids won’t make friends, they’ll catch the wrong bus, get nits, or not do their homework. I have five kids and it has never occurred to me that they might be gunned down. Murdered in their classroom. In the US that anxiety is founded on reality. It happens. The median age of a school shooter is 16. They’re kids too. What’s the point of having armed guards at your school if the shooter is already in the building? If the kid is in there, unidentified, failed by a system that brutalises, isolates and disconnects – then hands them an assault rifle?

And let’s just pause on the idea of having armed guards at school. While gun lovers jockey for freedom, the rest of their community loses theirs. How can a nation be so committed to this idea of ‘freedom’ yet be happy that the consequence is having armed guards and metal detectors on entry to place of learning for children? That’s not freedom. That’s trying to mitigate the risk of other people’s freedom. 

According to a 2021 poll 43 per cent of Americans support policies that allow teachers to carry guns. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the answer to gun violence is not more guns. America has more guns than people. And while that continues to be the case, children will continued to be massacred in school shootings.

An l8 year old boy with a serious mental health problem was able to buy an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. It’s an assault rifle. The shooter owned two of these and he bought them legally, just after his birthday. How can there be any valid reason for a teenager to own a military weapon? It’s designed to kill lots of people quickly. And it did. In the same state where you can face criminal charges for giving a woman a lift to an abortion clinic, it is legal for a child to buy an assault weapon that ecan kill dozens of other children. 

School shootings and America’s absolute reluctance to do anything meaningful about gun control laws, to reduce the number of guns in civilian control, is the clearest sign that the neoLiberal ideology of free market capitalism is criminally dangerous to society. 

The same country that fears the ‘communist threat’ of universal healthcare happily puts guns in the hands of unwell people. The same system that hands them the gun is the very system that turns people into school shooters.

And that system is broken.

And in America, the kids pay the price.


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  1. Agreed Mandy – As a former gun owner who was raised in a house-full of guns, I know believe that no-one should own a gun unless they have a very good reason (ie. farmers) and even then, the type of gun should be limited to bolt or pump action only. No-one ‘needs’ to own a gun any more than they need to own a tank, fighter plane or any other weapon. If you want to shoot something buy a camera!

    • Actually, we now need tanks, fighter planes and other weapons on top of the guns. The Second amendment is not for deer hunting, it’s so that the people as a whole working together can defend themselves against the government. Every mass murder committed by government is preceded by gun confiscation. From Lenin to Pol Pot

    • Owning a gun in the USA is a freedom under the Bill of Rights. Its not the Bill of Needs. Unlikely to change any time soon.

          • Your original statement was ambiguous. I totally agree it’s not about needs, it’s about having the maximum liberty possible before liberties start conflicting. If we had guns it wouldn’t affect anyone else’s liberty. When I was growing up, my Uncle had a room full of guns. The only person it affected was my Aunty. She wanted a sewing room, not a scene from the Matrix. But we all got trained to use everything from an SKK to a Tommy Gun and every pistol calibre. Guns aren’t scary, but they aren’t something you would ever want to be forced to use on someone. Kids don’t get those experiences these days so they call for war like it’s nothing.

  2. America thinks of itself as a super power and world leader, and yet it lets innocent children get shot because of outdated gun laws. If Americans insist on the right to bear arms, then let them have one gun per person which is only capable of firing one bullet at a time. At least it would stop mass shootings. Unfortunately, I can’t see the gun lobbyists agreeing to that. Who would want to live in America? Not me.

    • Hundreds of thousands of American are saved from violent crime each year by armed bystanders. The areas with the least gun laws have the lowest crime rate. Go check it out.

          • Trying to swing a riffle around in doors would be better described as stupid. Good way to get yourself jumped on and beaten to death. That’s why most gun crime is committed with 9mm pistols. A Glock-17 is much cheaper and easier to use than a fancy expensive hunting riffle.

        • In Sri Lanka, the people have been beating up the police and stealing their guns so they can protect their families

  3. Very sad indeed !! All law enforcement agencies…
    40 minutes before storming .. why ?
    The President oh the President !! 3 weeks ago
    Informed the world that the biggest security threat
    American’s faced today ? Climate change ..
    The midterms will judge that observation..!! Gone .
    More guns in America than the entire population..!
    Nothing will change the NRA massively powerful
    Republican & the Democrats have zero chance ..

    • Barrow. “the NRA massively powerful” . I don’t think the facts support the hyperbole. But enlighten me please.

      • The Gun lobby Mr Fitzgerald” facts ” ?
        Yes it is a fact no matter who is in power in the US nothing will change regarding gun
        Ownership..very sad indeed.. as was watching law enforcement handcuffing
        a mother wanting to go in and save her child
        Due to law enforcement doing very little
        To go in and save lives ..thats what you pledge to do when you sign up as a police officer.. yet were to afraid to storm the building because
        Of the possibility of law enforcement losing
        Lives ..

        • Barrow. What has all that got you do with the hyperbole surrounding the perceived power and influence of the NRA.

  4. Since the early 90s, schools in Queensland have had a police officer stationed in each one.
    [Ed note: There are 1,258 state schools and 548 independent and catholic schools in Queensland (https://schoolsdirectory.eq.edu.au). The School Based Policing Program (SBPP) ‘provides 57 state secondary schools (58 campuses)’ (https://education.qld.gov.au/students/student-health-safety-wellbeing/student-support-services/school-based-police-officers). ‘The main role of the program is to establish positive relationships between police and the secondary school community, to contribute to a safe and supportive learning environment.’]

    In Israel, the teachers all carry weapons.
    [Ed Note: ‘There is no evidence that Israel requires teachers to have guns. Israel has strict gun-control laws that specify for what professions and for what purposes people can be licensed to have a gun. Teachers are not among the professions listed, according to a synopsis of the country’s gun laws provided by the Library of Congress. Although Israel doesn’t arm its teachers, it does require that a security guard be stationed at schools with more than 100 students, according to a report compiled for the Connecticut General Assembly.’ (https://www.factcheck.org/2019/09/meme-gets-israel-gun-laws-wrong/)]

    Shockingly enough, criminals avoid those schools.
    I’ll remind you that the Australian Federal Police have estimated there are more illegal firearms in Australia than population. There have been more guns than people in Australia since Europeans arrived.
    The illegal gun are imported with the drugs. And we are not taking AR-15s that are a hunting riffles, actual military weapons like AK74s get here and lots and lots of concealable 9mm pistols. Only you, law abide citizen, are not allowed to be armed.

    • Note to Ed: Thank you for pointing out that the Labor govt that just legalised full term abortion has also removed the police from the schools. This was not the policy in the 90s. Their main role when introduced was to deal with the drug problem. I personal know a kid that was an armed drug dealer that was arrested at school by the ‘liaison officer’ and we never saw him again. several kids were arrested at my high school during my time there. We of course asked if she was armed and she said yes, but we don’t carry them around the playground.
      My nieces in Townsville confirmed that the several schools they attended up there in the late 2000s all had police as well ‘…to deal with the Aboriginal kids’ they said.

      Note to Ed: Any teacher in Israel that has completed their mandatory military service can get qualified as a school guard, as can admin staff. There has to be the required number of guards at all times, but it’s not the same people all day. You can get scheduled on for guard duty in free periods to make extra shekels as it pays better than teaching. So technically you are not a teacher at the moment you are being a guard, but you will still shoot to kill if anyone tries to kidnap or harm one of your students. If there are no school staff available, you can hire a professional guard from outside the school to make up the numbers.

  5. Some facts in this sad narrative. The AR 15 is not an assault rifle. It is a modern sporting rifle. Its not a military weapon. No military has ever used the modern AR15 . The narrative is controlled by the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court, not the NRA.

    • ‘AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons are civilian versions of military weapons that gun control advocates say aren’t very different,’ according to npr.org. ‘The AR-15, like its military version, is designed to kill people quickly and in large numbers, hence the term assault-style rifle, gun control advocates told NPR in 2018. They say it has no valid recreational use, and civilians should not be allowed to own them. The gun industry, gun owners and their supporters on the other hand, say AR-15s are used for hunting, target practice and shooting competitions and should remain legal’.

      • The only relevance is what the Supreme court says in their interpretation of the 2nd amendment . AR 15 modern sporting rifles are there for legal.

      • So people who have no weapons train can’t tell the difference by looking at them, no crap. Pick each one up and even you will notice the difference. Don’t try to use M16 ammo in an AR15, the AR15 will destroy it’s self. Even though the AR15 is only semi-auto, if you try to run a whole magazine in one go, the AR15 will destroy it’s self. They are designed this way on purpose. And the damn things jam all the time even when you do follow instructions. What you think are AK47s in the US are also not actual AK47s. They are a highly civilianised version. You would not want to be running around in Ukraine with one of these civilianised pretend weapons. You wouldn’t last long.

  6. USA has a fanatical bent to their collective consciousness.
    Fanaticism, despite our personal bias is not only a right wing thing.
    It’s a human who thinks they are exceptional and their belief system is above all.
    So why do the people’s of the USA have this tendency for such extreme beliefs?
    Maybe generations of been told that they are the best at everything in all the world….breeds a kind of quasi religious belief in your founding document and cultural quirks.
    As with most religions beliefs are not examined internally ..but taken as a high truth .
    It would be hard to logically connect living in a capitalist free market to a tendency for such extremism of beliefs.
    More likely an extreme religious like mindset…that allow no scope for self reflection…. a sane person would realise that our founding document was written when a musket took 2 minutes to reload.

    • The same sane person then would expect you to have write the above with a quill, on parchment and delivered on horse back. Auto loading firearms were available and well known at the time. Civilians owned cannons and warships then as they are allowed today.

    • The other guys musket took 1 minute to reload.
      We need guns to protect our communities because their are fanatics that think their belief system is above all.
      I agree Americans have a religious self righteousness, but it’s not a Christian one, the ten commandments start with thou shalt not kill.
      Nothing wrong with loving your country and it’s history. Nothing wrong with thinking everyone else’s country should be like yours. Bit of a problem when you start pointing guns and demanding it though. Not keen on the way China is doing the same thing in a different way.
      Makes me feel we should all have an AK or two to protect our families, just in case these nut job want to invade us at some stage.

  7. A country that has spent decades through media normalising the violence of its military endeavours casually slaughtering civilians in some of the poorest countries on earth wonders why theres violence at home.

  8. ‘Guns kill kids’ but lots of things kill kids, not just abortionist, cars kill a lot more kids, so does drowning. Guns save a lot of kids too, every year.
    23 Americans are killed by lightning each year. That’s 529 killed by lightning since the Columbine shooting. Only ‘169 people have died’ in school shootings in the same period. Forget the bullet proof vest, put a lightning rod on these kids.

    ‘How can there be any valid reason for a teenager to own a military weapon?’, well we send them to war to kill people all the time. If the public had it’s way, all our 18 year olds would be in the Ukraine right now. Better to have them here protecting our communities with some personal firearms.

    If the ‘shooter’ wanted to kill people, for the price of two AR15s he could have bought a sturdy car to drive through a parade and get a much higher body count. Silly boy.

    ‘ideology of free market capitalism is criminally dangerous to society’. Can you please point to the markets that aren’t rigged. We don’t have free markets, we have Crony Capitalism. A Kleptocracy in Economic Science jargon. You have to have the right friends then ‘pay for play’.

    ‘The same country that fears the ‘communist threat’ of universal healthcare’. Anyone can walk into the emergency room of an american hospital and get free treatment. Even if you are not a citizen. Obamacare is their ‘universal healthcare’. Instead of taking it out of your tax like they do hear, they get you to mandatorally pay it straight to an insurance company. In Australia, the government acts as a health insurance company. The US also has Medicaid and Medicare which are free insurance for the elderly and disabled.

    If I hit you with a hammer, it’s not the hammers fault. It’s not suddenly an assault hammer.
    I can run a lot more people over with a semi-automatic assault truck than I could shoot with an AR15. I would have to keep aiming and pulling the trigger with an AR, which gives you all time to run away. You can’t out run a truck.

    If guns have no defensive properties, then the Police must just be running around attacking people. The Military too. Let’s disarm the Police to end their violent rampage! Besides, there’s never a cop around when you need one anyway.

  9. So we have all this information ‘on the gun’! Looks & sounds like an
    addiction. In my other neck of the woods – ‘family’ USA – East Coast
    if things are tough learn to walk away. First Nations see little use in
    the weapon business. We’re born with fists & brains. They ought to
    be enough.

    • I didn’t know you were pro-violence Stef?
      I’m pro-gun because I’m anti-violence. I’m pro-nuke because I’m anti-war.
      Didn’t anyone give you a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War when you were a kid? It teaches you to avoid violence and how to do it.
      Aboriginals weren’t big on inventing guns, that’s why it’s our country now, bit of a lesson in that. Prepare for war but sue for peace.
      And yes, men are addicted to protecting our women and children, it’s what nature built us to do.

  10. Add on. All this ‘look at me I know my stuff’ is pitiful. If you chucked the guns & ammo
    life would be a hell of a lot better. Addiction & the right to blow anyone away sounds
    like a school history lesson for cretons. Monkey see monkey do. Quit supporting fools
    & those on-line selling the junk.

    • They don’t have the right to just shoot anyone they like. They execute people who do that.
      Guns are a tool like cars or computers or a can opener. You only use guns like you use a seat belt. Most of the time you don’t need one, it’s annoying to strap one on all the time, but in the rare instance you need one thing may turn out really badly if you don’t have it. Guns are personal protection tools. We would be going on about wanting to be allowed to have seat belts and life jackets if we were band from having those. A gun can protect you from a criminal simply by showing them you have one. They have to be out of their head to attack you when they can see you are armed.

  11. Just try & tell the Dakota Sioux & Standing Rock Water Protectors, Christian.
    Attempt a listen in to Buffy Sainte Marie; no room for any gun-lobby there either.
    History’s ‘Wounded Knee’ lives on with my relatives. Stuff the reliance on hit
    & run; grow up & learn to be peaceful. Pro violence will get you nowhere.

    • Very few conflicts involving native Americans involved any Europeans. It’s was mostly one native tribe vs another. They were paid to wipe each other out. All the tribes were already fighting with each other, you just give one lot guns and they would wipe all their neighbors out. It was the same trick used in India.

      Last I checked, the Dakota pipeline went through and is leaking oil everywhere….so…..not a good job stopping it really. What they needed was a tactical nuke.

  12. Grow up, Christian. The British did their best to convince Turtle Island Natives that
    they could be trusted. The French; ditto. Gun-runners [whites] did very well out of
    such a sick & ugly way of being. The raping of women & children was hideous. Go
    see Soldier Blue – movie documentary. Buffy Sainte Marie writes & performs……..

    “Who brought the bomb wrapped up in
    in business cards
    and stained with steak?
    Who hires a maid to wash his money?
    Who keeps Politicians on the take?

    They say silver burns a hole in your pocket,
    and gold burns a hole in your soul.
    Uranium burns a hole in forever –
    it just gets out of control. Windego!
    With angels on the take,
    and gangsters in the yard – hey
    don’t the wars come easy – hey
    don’t the peace come hard.”

    • So your complaint is with the British East India company, the French Government, and some Jewish gun salesmen.
      None of those things were done by the guns.
      All of those things could have been done with swords.
      Emotionalism isn’t the solution to the problems, it is the cause.

  13. Your kinsmen sure had a fun time doing a wipe-out, hey. The ongoing
    continues today. Great surplus of ex-armory Gun lobbies contact lots
    of grandmas world wide each day along with teenagers. What a set of
    examples. It’s safer to go play in the traffic.

  14. Add on. Who pulled the trigger of the guns that killed thousands
    of Native Americans – men women & children. And who stole the
    the lands? Mickie Mouse…

  15. Stolen lands ? Dont think so ..no matter where
    Or what country you reside in.. we all belong
    To it ..as many first nation’s people’s have said
    Many times..

  16. Mr Steinberg seems to look at the USA through rose tinted glasses. It isn’t at all like that; he should cancel his subscription to The Oz & Smellygraph, then subscribe to AIM, Crikey, The Guardian and Dail Kos. he’ll see a different picture there.


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