Written by: Magnus Azevedo Stirø
On the 14th of February, 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The surviving students have made many appeals for changes in gun laws, starting a movement that is gaining momentum.
The pictures were as the ones seen before with school shootings. Students emerging from the building met by heavily armed police, concerned parents, and media. Not everyone got home that day from Stoneman Douglas High School and another school shooting in the USA was a reality. In fact, it was the eighth school shooting resulting in death or injury in 2018 so far.
While the usual experts weighed in with their view, the surviving students have taken the limelight. Well-spoken and with good arguments, they have pleaded with politicians to act to prevent such tragic events in the future. This has rubbed off on students around the country, as walkouts have been staged in several states and more events have been announced to take place in the coming weeks. These students have spoken so well for them that some have accused them of being payed actors with Donald Trump Jr. liking a tweet making that accusation, showing the right-wing conspiracy theories that have popped up after several mass shootings getting more attention and closer to the White House.
Although the students have made waves, reforming gun laws is a tricky business in America. They have taken aim at politicians to act, although the gun lobby has enormous influence. Only days after the shooting the Florida House of Representatives voted against debating a bill proposing a ban on assault rifles but chose to pass a resolution declaring porn as dangerous. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has payed off many congressmen to support them and the gun industry, making it seem likely that much will happen as republicans control both Congress chambers. On a federal level, banning bump stocks has been mentioned and President Trump mentioned that the Florida school shooting was a mental health issue and promised to act without giving specifics. Research looking into mental health and gun violence is not well funded as the Congress in 1996 prohibited funding the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for advocating or promoting gun control. One proposal that has gained traction is arming teachers, although the NRA itself has been against that before. This move plays into NRAs agenda and will benefit the gun industry immensely, while opponents have argued it won’t make schools any safer.
The aftermath of the February 14th shooting has seen some positive results though. Several big companies, such as Hertz, Delta, and United among others, have cut ties to the NRA after pressure from consumers. People on social media continue to pressure companies to cut ties with the NRA. Many have also posted videos to social media of them cutting their guns in half, where many have been of AR-15s, the same one used in the school shooting. On a political level, results have been made already. Oregon has passed legislation that will forbid people with some violence related convictions to own guns. It is up to the individual states to act on reforming gun laws, as the federal state is slowed by the influence the NRA has on Congress.
Gun related violence is an issue that must be addressed as it accounts for 30.000 deaths a year, and the teenagers that survived the Florida shooting are certainly pushing for change as they returned to school this week 17 short.
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