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.