Log In

Reset Password

Trying to change America’s gun culture

Taking a stand: hundreds of students from Deerfield Beach High School in Coconut Creek, Florida make their way to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland to show support for victims of the recent shooting (Photograph by Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Much of the world continues to be alarmed at the amount of tragedies where countless lives are lost through criminal use of weapons designed for the battlefield.

This has created a massive reaction from younger Americans who feel the latest mass killing at a high school in Florida did irreparable damage to ambitions to calm an almost out-of-control gun culture. Each day in America, at least 90 people die as a result of incidents involving firearms.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead, including students and teachers, touched a nerve throughout much of that nation, with many calling for changes in gun laws.

Such calls have been made many times before after numerous tragedies at the hands of someone armed with an assault rifle, which in some states could be purchased by someone at the age of 18 without question.

That appears to be the situation with what happened in Florida, when a deeply disturbed young man took advantage of a law that allowed him to purchase a powerful assault weapon, with the intent of killing innocent people, including students he was once in class with.

Once again, the topic of America’s Constitution and the Second Amendment, which gives one the right to own a weapon for protection, has become a hot issue, as a growing number of Americans feel that right should not be extended to powerful weapons used by the military.

It is common knowledge that the National Rifle Association, which has never been open to any drastic changes in laws that would make it more difficult to own assault weapons, is not quite ready to shift its posture when it comes to gun control.

It is also common knowledge that this powerful organisation has given a number of politicians economic support in running for office, and that is why Americans feel too many politicians are reluctant to push for tighter gun laws. With demonstrations and protests by many young people, including survivors of the Florida shooting, it is hoped that maybe, just maybe, for the first time, the United States Congress will take a harder look at the problem. That remains to be seen.

With Donald Trump, who has always openly supported the NRA, expressing the view that arming teachers could improve safety for students, a view seen by a number of experts as counterproductive, there seems little chance that anything dramatic will take place with American gun laws in the near future. Many see no solution even in raising the age of ownership of deadly assault weapons.

While there are many Americans who support the NRA in having the weapon of their choice, others feel a total ban on all assault weapons would make America safer, bringing it in line with a number of countries that have strict gun laws that reduce incidents that are a regular occurrence in America.

The mere suggestion of arming teachers has the tone of the Wild West, with potential gunplay expected at every turn. It will not be an easy problem to solve without acknowledging that in some places in America, one could purchase a gun as though they were ordering a cheeseburger — the culture itself is in need of urgent change.

The sad reality is that there are many solid-thinking good Americans who really want change in gun-control laws, but are acutely aware that in an environment where some would rather have a gun instead of a fine meal with friends, change is not around the corner.

However, that is no reason for those Americans trying to change the nation’s gun culture to surrender to those who feel problems are solved only through the barrel of a smoking gun. America is much bigger and better than that.