In the immediate aftermath of the murder – and yes that is exactly what it was not the less emotive “shooting” or “killing” that the media, NRA and politicians use – of innocent people at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School in Florida I wrote the following.
The USA President won’t do anything to stop it
The USA Congress won’t do anything to stop it
The USA Senate won’t do anything to stop it
The USA People won’t do anything to stop it
All they offer the victims and their families are their prayers.
I have a very sad confession to make and it is this.
I arrived home late last night -GMT time – to the news from Florida of the senseless murder of young people in a school and wrote this blog.
The confession is that when I wrote it,
It wasn’t out of a sense of anger at the destruction of young lives, or the number who had already died and were injured,
It wasn’t written out of frustration that once again someone had taken a weapon and removed other human beings from this planet depriving them of life and who knows what they may have achieved in the world.
It wasn’t written out of outrage at those in power who could and should do something about it.
My confession is that on hearing the news my initial thoughts were “Oh! another shooting” followed by “well it was expected and won’t be the last and anyway a USA problem” and then a realisation that instead – as I believe anyone who is a parent will understand – it was a disappointment in myself because my reaction actually was bordering on total indifference.
And that when shared as an emotion with millions of others is what makes the situation for all of us the most dangerous and saddest of all.
Since publishing it I have watched the reaction – especially of the young people – that if the people of the USA have reacted to in the same way as I have will thankfully prove that I was wrong.
My original reaction was based on the belief that having seen the number of times such in incidents have happened that as far as those who should do something to stop it haven’t because their attitude is that human life doesn’t seem to count for much in the United States.
How can it be seen otherwise when after just seven weeks of 2018 this was the latest of eight shootings at American schools that have ended up in serious injury and death.
How can a society and country who elected a President with the catch phrase “Make America Great Again” even start to think they can be great when a 19 year old who is by law too young to drink alcohol can legally buy a semi-automatic rifle and perhaps even more frightening as much ammunition as he can afford?
The USA President isn’t going to do something about it except to come up with the absolutely barking idea that the answer is to arm teachers.
If he had served in the military – which he had the opportunity to do but managed to find an excuse to avoid it on no less than five occasions – he would know that a man with a hand gun is no match for a man with a semi-automatic rifle.
Perhaps he has been watching too much NCIS Los Angeles on FOX where with a single shot from a hand gun the bad guy is always instantly and immediately dropped and killed.
Well I have news for him and the Senators and Congress representatives who support him – it is fiction.
Yes there are some in the Congress and Senate who have made statements that things will need to change and that change will be to bring in some level of “gun control” but does anyone seriously think that if they form a majority in both houses after the November elections they will draft and pass legislation to Amend the Second Amendment?
However and this is why I was wrong – or at least I hope I’m proved to be wrong.
Something has changed.
And it has changed led not by politicians or the media but by young people who have decided that they have had enough of the platitudes from the politicians and are “taking the fight” to them and to the NRA.
I should say that they also have the support of that most formidable of foes who politicians ignore at their own peril namely the young people’s mothers.
As one young man clearly stated – which is a call that I believe should resonate and reverberate across America – to those in Comgress, Senate and the White House –
“Ignore us if you want but we will outlive you”
In the 2010 USA census there was 74.2 million young people under the age of 18 of who almost 40 million will be eligible to vote this year (2018) and in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Add to that the fact that in the same census there was 112.8 million aged 18 to 44 years of who by extrapolation over 56 million are women the majority of who are mothers.
That is by any stretch of imagination a huge voting bloc who if they remain motivated can change the face of America and especially through the democratic process the level of gun violence across the country.
And it will work in a country where if there is one single thing that the wealthy and those in power hold more dear than human life it is the pursuit of even more wealth.
We are already seeing the influence the young people and mothers are having with national and international global businesses such as Delta and United Airlines, First National Bank and MetLife, Budget Car Rental, Best Western and Allied Van Lines severing links with the NRA.
Companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods announcing it was immediately ending sales of assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines in all its stores, and that it would not sell a gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of the local laws.
And perhaps even more importantly a bill to ban tactical semi-automatic assault weapons filed in Congress.
All good news but far from achieving what needs to be achieved to prevent mass shootings happening again.
And yes I know with over 500 million weapons many of them semi automatic or even more deadly already in circulation the chances of someone in America going on a killing rampage in the future is more probable than possible but in time the risk will be increasingly diminished.
It is in the hands of the young generation of America and their mothers.
They will be opposed by the legislature who rely on the NRA coffers and the NRA themselves.
They will be opposed by those who say the Second Amendment is enshrined in the Constitution by those who incidentally always seem to forget to mention – perhaps they don’t know – that the Second Amendment was an Amendment and wasn’t in the original Constitution.
All I would say to the young people of America as an Englishman who has lived through and seen the success of gun controls here in the United Kingdom is don’t be put off, don’t be deterred by the “Old Folks” in your state legislatures and corridors of Washington.
Look at the names of those who died at Marjory Stonemason Douglas – they are those of people who are descendants of immigrants who arrived in America over the past 200 years seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
They are the names of the families who really will make America Great.
So young people stuff the detractors, take them on as your forebears did before and build a nation that is yours and do not simply accept that you have to be satisfied with what those with the wealth and power say you should be grateful for.
And your mums will stand with you – because – no matter how old you become that’s what mums do for their children.
And as a dad – I would suggest that the wise thing to do is actively stand by them as well – or move out.