On Wednesday 14th February, we again witnessed the American government’s inability to prioritise the value of life. In Parkland, Florida, 17 lives were lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a mass shooting, these individuals became another heart-breaking statistic, symbolising the fallacy the rest of society has been led to believe: America is the leader of the free world.  Already 2,487 lives have been lost this year alone due to gun violence in America, including 39 mass shootings.

2,487 lives have been lost this year alone due to gun violence in America, including 39 mass shootings

The assumed governmental reaction to such an event would mirror Britain’s response to the Dunbar Primary School shooting of 1996 where 17 lives were taken. The Snowdrop campaign lead to gun reform in Britain and the banning of handguns. Since then, statistics have shown a great reduction in gun crime committed in Britain compared to North America.

Instead, we saw the common response of Republican elites retreating to the hollow statement that stricter gun laws “would not have prevented any of these tragedies” (Marco Rubio, Florida State Senate), keeping their pockets lined with NRA (National Rifle Association) money. It is politicians such as Rubio that fail to protect the people they serve. They remain indulged in wealth and power; their solution only breeds greater violence. This is epitomised by President Trump, who’s answer was to give teachers who are “adept at firearms” guns, so that “they could very well end the attack quickly”. There is a clear failure by politicians in their inability to identify the cause of GUN violence.

There is a clear failure by politicians in their INability to identify the cause of GUN violence

Trump’s ineptitude to empathise with those actually affected by gun violence, adds potency to the US government’s failure to address the epidemic of gun crime. President Trump proved this by accidentally revealing his cue cards when talking with pupils and parents affected by several mass school shootings, reminding himself of sympathetic phrases such as ‘I hear you’.

The American argument to maintain a gun culture in society is rooted in the infamous Second Amendment of their Constitution stating: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” to ensure “the security of a free State”. Yet it is this very law that is endangering the members of US society it seeks to protect. There seems to be an instilled fear that any restrictions on gun laws will threaten the basis of the Amendment, preventing any discussion of serious change.

The issue stems from American culture and its normalisation of violence. In a supposedly democratic and free society, Federal law enforcement not only bears arms but uses them at an alarming rate; inflaming pre-existing racial discrimination in US society. Countless policemen are acquitted of any wrongdoing when unjustifiably taking the lives of innocent people. Is it, therefore, a surprise that citizens imitate those in power if they are constantly bombarded with news cycles of gun violence.

One only has to compare Norway, where “there’s a high percentage of gun possession” (Asne Seierstad), with America to see the differing approaches to firearms taken by law enforcement. “The police [have] not been armed in Norway,” Seierstad stated. “People in the US could say, ‘Well, isn’t that scary?’ Well, when the police are not armed, the drug dealer is not armed, the criminals are not armed, because no one is armed.”

As millennials, it has become our duty to relentlessly challenge those in power, who are set on corrupting our world of tomorrow. Frankly, too many politicians are not serving in the interest of the people, and remain transparent puppets of corporations. The current state of today’s world looks both violent and unstable, and yet the voices that perhaps matter most are being quashed, as we fail to understand why wealth and power are being prioritised lives.

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