Friday, 23 February 2018

Another rant about guns!

I find myself moved to rant again - yes, again! - about the stupidity of mass-gun-owning culture. So here it is.

This is a quote from somebody talking about the pupils of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, Parkland Florida:

“They have lived through “active shooter” drills at school and have seen the introduction of bullet-proof backpacks with child-friendly colours and patterns.”

Imagine feeling that you need to buy a bullet-proof rucksack for your offspring. Your only concern should be that it is waterproof and, in most cases in the UK, a certain annoyance that secondary-age students have to carry so much stuff around with them that it is a wonder they don’t all have back problems.

Imagine having to have “active shooter drills”. Fire drills disrupt the education programme quite enough but we all recognise the need for those. Having “active shooter drills” must increase the anxiety of pupils and staff alike.

I read an account of a teacher discussing with her class what they would do in the event of a crazy person with a gun coming into the school. Her classroom has two doors, one of which remains locked at all times. They could lock the other door as well but both these doors have glass panels (probably the result of a different sort of security need - making what goes on in classrooms visible to all) and there are no corners out of sight of the glass panels. The teacher concluded that she would lock the class in the storeroom, which is lockable from the outside only, and slide the key under the door. One of the pupils pointed out, amazed, that this would leave the teacher on the outside. That is what teachers are prepared to do!

And now Donald Trump proposes arming 20% of all teachers.

Part of his reasoning is that if the sports coach who lost his life trying to tackle the Florida gunman had had a gun in his hand at the time he could simply have shot him. This, of course, assumes that he had the gun in an easily accessible place, a dubious proposition in a classroom, or that he carried it on his person at all times, again a dubious proposition in a teaching situation. Imagine a potential shoot-out in every classroom!

And of course, I watched POTUS say, these teachers would be trained.

A journalist in the Washington Post pointed out that “Trump’s proposal, if taken literally, would mean giving guns to about 718,000 teachers. That’s almost as much as the army and navy combined.”

This is before you even start to budget for arming teaching.

I am pretty sure that there are some teachers who are gun enthusiasts and who might approve of Trump’s proposal, just as there are teachers who still believe that we should have corporal punishment in schools. However, I am equally, if unscientifically, sure that they are in a minority. 

Teachers just want to teach!

When we saw the original TV reports of the shooting, I was struck by how many students were filming the attack on their mobile phones. An example of the ubiquitous nature of social media, even in crisis situations. One student journalist interviewed people while the shooting went on. He explained, “I recorded those videos because I didn’t know if I was going to survive. But I knew that if those videos survived, they would echo on and tell the story. And that story would be one that would change things. And that would be my legacy.”

Student survivors of the shooting went to confront lawmakers to demand gun control reforms. Thousands of teenagers walked out of lessons in other high schools in solidarity. About 100 students from the Parkland school travelled 450 miles to the state capital of Tallahassee to spend the morning meeting with Republican and Democratic party legislators.

“Some heard us loud and clear, others did not,” said one of the students. And rightwing commentators have attacked the protest, expressing the belief that their sorrow was being “hijacked by leftwing groups who have an agenda” and suggesting that the students were “in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases”.

This is the the response of the National Rifle Association:

“The elites don’t care not one whit about America’s school system and schoolchildren. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them, it’s not a safety issue, it’s a political issue. They care more about control, and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms... They hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom.”

So it’s all about an personal attack on freedom-loving gun-toting American citizens, is it?

After all, other countries also have guns, don’t they? Well, here’s a comment on that:

“Gun advocates like to point to countries like Israel and Switzerland where gun ownership is relatively high but shootings are rarer. Both countries, however, still manage to have lower rates of gun ownership than the US and impose far more stringent restrictions – mandatory background checks, for example – on acquiring weapons than Americans do.

Public-carrying permits are rarely issued to the Swiss. In Israel, gun control is strict. Any individual who has access to a weapon must undergo some military training. Gun hobbyists don’t really exist. Few Israelis can obtain licenses for automatic weapons.”

Young people are making their voices heard in all sorts of political situations. It’s time POTUS and his government started to listen to their young people!

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