We call BS

They call BS.

I call BS.

Do you call BS?

Last month, “We call BS” was one of the most trending catch phrases circulating the world following the events that took place on February 14th, 2018.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community in Parkland, Florida, will remember a day that is associated with love for the the horrible, sad and preventable tragedy that occured. Around 1pm, former expelled student Nikolas Cruz entered school grounds with an AR-15 style semi-automatic assault rifle, killing 17 students and staff, and injuring many more.  

Now for those of you who are not members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), this is one mother of a gun. Take a look for yourself.

An AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle

Three days following the mass shooting, Emma Gonzalez, a current student at the school, gave an emotional yet powerful speech demanding gun law changes at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale. Repeatedly throughout her address, she stated, “We call BS” (BS meaning bullshit).

Most often we see Baby Boomers, officials and politicians standing and speaking on behalf of the victims. We now have a strong, independent generation, who are tired of the monotonous, bureaucratic bullshit. They are now the living victims, speaking on behalf of the thousands of voiceless victims murdered by mass killers. As Gonzalez stated in her speech, “it’s time for victims to be the change we need to see”. If no one listens to the victims now, no one ever will.

First, let’s step back for a moment and put things into perspective. This year, keeping in mind that we are only at day 78 of 2018 (as of 19th March), there have been a total of 48, yes that’s right, 48 mass shootings in the United States of America (USA) – 18 of which have been on school campuses. You don’t need to be a genius or mathematician to know that these numbers are tragically and disturbingly bad.

Unfortunately, after each mass shooting, the same cycle occurs… forgetting and ignoring the real issue at hand.

The constant cycle following each mass shooting in the USA.

So where does America go from here?

Copy Australia?

Many suggest that America should implement similar gun laws to those in Australia.

It is now over 20 years since Australia’s gun laws changed – changed for the better. On April 28, 1996, 28 year old Martin Bryant went on a shooting rampage through Port Arthur, Tasmania. Using multiple semi-automatic weapons, Bryant killed 35 people and injured many more.  

Prime Minister at the time, John Howard standing at the Port Arthur Memorial.

The following day, newly elected Prime Minister John Howard came to the realisation that enough was enough and pushed for gun law reforms. Only four months later, Howard introduced the National Firearms Agreement. It banned all fully automatic or semiautomatic weapons, except when potential buyers could provide a valid reason for owning such a firearm (which did not include self-defence, America). The federal government also instituted a gun buy-back program, which resulted in the surrender of some 640,000 firearms.

Since 1996, Australia has had 0 mass shootings.

Arm teachers with guns?

On February 22nd, 2018, President Donald Trump stated “if we arm adept teachers with guns, we won’t have these shootings”.

 

Won’t this only make teachers more of a target? And how is supplying teachers with guns going to stop mass shootings at music concerts, in night clubs…? If we are going to arm teachers to protect their students, do we arm musicians to protect their fans, arm bouncers to protect those trying to enjoy a night out? Either way, a shooter will strategically target those armed to ensure they achieve maximum fatalities. We need to look at the big picture.

Change gun laws?

The hardest, yet most obvious action to take is, to change the gun laws. Unfortunately, it’s the country’s Second Amendment and current gun laws that stand in the way of change.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution was adopted on December 15, 1791, stating “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. In other words, citizens of America have the right to possess weapons for their own defence. This was an appropriate law made during a time of war, allowing people to defend themselves when needed. Now living in a more civilised century, are people just taking advantage of the amendment?

Legal age requirements are another issue. Federal laws state that any person, 18 years and older, can be in possession of a handgun. However, there is no minimum age for the possession of long guns (a category of firearm generally designed to be held by both hands and braced against the shoulder). Right, so you can legally own a gun before you’re allowed to legally drink? Makes sense. Not.

Cutting ties with the NRA?

Influencing everything gun related is the NRA. The NRA is a non-profit organisation advocating for gun rights. Particularly in the past 50 years, they have lobbied against all forms of gun control and argued that guns make the country safer.

So, why hasn’t a President or congress member ever stood up to the NRA? Because of their political influence. Or should I say, political favouritism…

During presidential campaigns, the NRA is particularly active, contributing millions to support the candidate who is pro guns and to target the candidate who isn’tThe NRA also provides ‘financial support’ to some congress members.  When I say some, I mean those who are pro guns, the majority of whom are Republicans. The NRA literally gives their money to these politicians to help them campaign, hoping they will be elected and ensure gun rights and laws don’t change. Instead of assisting in changing gun laws in order to save the lives of innocent Americans, it seems some would prefer hundreds of thousands of dollars in their back pocket.

“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you” – Emma Gonzalez

By the looks of it, change may have to come from political outsiders first. Following public outcry against the gun lobby, many large corporations such as Delta and United Airlines, Avis Budget Group and Metlife, decided to terminate their contracts with the NRA in response to the Parkland High School shooting.

So, will 2018 be the year a President finally cuts ties with the NRA? In a meeting with lawmakers on February 25th, 2018, President Trump stated “… it’s time, we’re gonna stop this nonsense this time”. He continued explaining, that he likes the responsibility of trying to change the country’s gun laws. “I really do. It’s time that a President step up.”

Also, during a recent bipartisan meeting with lawmakers held at the White House, The President made some promising suggestions. Trump proposed strengthening background checks, raising the minimum age to buy certain guns and taking guns away from those with mental health issues.  

But will  these proposals really stop mass shootings? As Emma Gonzalez stated in her Fort Lauderdale gun rally speech, … he wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife”.

America could do a lot to better regulate gun use and I believe the time for change is now. What do you think needs to happen?

In the meantime, the only thing we can keep doing is keep calling BS.

 

 

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