Gun Control in the USA: The Curious Case of David Hogg & Friends
A Quick Disclaimer
Before beginning this article, I just want to make it abruptly clear that I am neither a US resident or citizen. These are purely the views of an outsider. However, I will also indicate that if I was a US resident or citizen, I would be in support of tightening laws surrounding gun control, but would never condone the complete removal of firearms from the public.
The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back
Here in England, we are regularly being fed news stories detailing events that eventually led to the death of a group of innocent people due to a lunatic with a gun. More often than not, these tragedies are occurring on US soil.
When I think of the phrase 'mass shooting', a few incidents spring to mind: Columbine, Las Vegas and Sandy Hook, to name a few. Now, aside from all of them being mass shootings, these three atrocities have something in common. What they share is the fact that they have each gained a certain level of infamy and are events that are now recognised by a vast amount of people worldwide.
Recently, on the 14th February 2018, Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was attacked by a lone gunman. The perpetrator was able to murder 17 innocent people with an AR-15 assault rifle. Personally, I cannot remember a stronger response to a mass shooting than the March for our Lives campaign, which followed this horrific incident. For this reason, the Stoneman Douglas shooting seems like the final straw for a lot of US citizens, who now want to see gun laws restricted.
Remembering the 17 Victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 - Scott Beigel, 35 - Martin Duque, 14 - Nicholas Dworet, 17 - Aaron Feis, 37 - Jaime Guttenberg, 14 - Chris Hixon, 49 - Luke Hoyer, 15 - Cara Loughran, 14 - Gina Montalto, 14 - Joaquin Oliver, 17 - Alaina Petty, 14 - Meadow Pollack, 18 - Helena Ramsay, 17 - Alex Schachter, 14 - Carmen Schentrup, 16 - Peter Wang, 15
Respecting the Second Amendment
As stated in the short disclaimer paragraph preceding this article, I do agree that there should be tighter gun control laws, but I would never stand for the removal of guns from the entirety of the US public.
The United States Constitution has been in effect since the 4th March, 1789 - a total of 229 years! For this reason, I have complete and total respect for the rights that the United States Constitution affords its people and I can understand why US citizens would want to keep the United States Constitution in place. This is without mentioning that the United States Constitution is a hugely significant part of the country's history.
Although, I'm sure that a compromise could be arranged that ensures the safety of US citizens whilst maintaining the right to bear arms. It would be completely unfair to strip trustworthy and sensible citizens of their guns due to the actions of a few. However, coming to that compromise could be more difficult than a lot of people think.
"Gun control means being able to hit your target. If I have a 'hot button' issue, this is definitely it. Don't even think about taking my guns. My rights are not negotiable, and I am totally unwilling to compromise when it comes to the Second Amendment."— Michael Badnarik
Puppet Strings and Talking Heads
The recent March for our Lives rally created a huge stir in the media, with most major publications covering the event. Not for the first time, David Hogg and his friends took to the stage to give speeches that supported the tightening of gun control laws. This group of students from Stoneman Douglas High School has been garnering huge amounts of attention, especially from left-wing media outlets and they are becoming recognised activists not just across America, but around the globe.
Although I agree with their position on the matter, I often wonder whether these students are being taken advantage of and if they are simply being used as puppets for large media corporations. Aside from the fact that you don't hear much from Stoneman Douglas students who are pro-gun, the vibe this group gives off is definitely not savoury and I cannot help but feel that Hogg and friends are nothing but talking heads. However, I have to commend the media outlets using this smoke screen. What's more appealing than a group of teenagers who seem educated, have experienced a tragedy and relate well to the younger population? It's definitely a winning strategy!
As mentioned, the pro-gun students that endured the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting seem to get significantly less coverage than Hogg and friends. Despite my position, I completely disagree with this. I feel that both sides of the argument should get fair representation, especially when they have experienced the same tragedy. This further solidifies my stance that Hogg and friends are being utilised simply for their political stance and nothing more. This isn't about giving the youth a voice, this is solely about forcing an agenda to the masses, which shouldn't be the media's purpose. There just doesn't seem to be any sincerity in their words, it's as if they are relaying a message rather than spreading their own views and opinions.
Despite my feelings about Hogg and friends, I do have to give them some credit. David Hogg is an excellent public speaker and he conveyed his script very well at the March for our Lives. I'd imagine that David is of a similar age to myself (20) and I don't think that I would have been as confident as him on that stage in front of that many people. Co-student Emma Gonzalez also did a great job speaking publicly at the rally and is possibly the most politically manipulating of the bunch. Gonzalez's silence to mark the amount of time that it took the perpetrator to murder the 17 victims was extremely intelligent, forcing emotional responses from the crowd.
Where do you stand?
Following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a group of students from the school set up Never Again MSD - a gun control organisation advocating for tighter gun regulations across America.
What Can Be Done Next?
It's time to snip the strings of the media puppets and begin formulating reasonable resolutions to gun control in the United States of America. This will be no easy feat, but a compromise must be met for public safety. The right-wing do make a great point that guns will be used by criminals whether or not gun control laws are tightened, as this is something we see occasionally in the UK. However, tighter laws should restrict ease of access to firearms.
It's also quite apparent that a great deal of the US population believe that mental health is the issue and not guns. Therefore, why stop at gun control? This is the opportunity to tackle two problems at once. Both gun control and mental health treatment across America could be reformed and I'm sure that there would be a widespread positive effect from doing so.
In an ideal world, the needs of everyone would be met. However, we don't live in an ideal world and not everyone is going to be happy if change takes place. Any reform that does happen must aim to please as many people as possible, keeping happy those that support tighter gun control laws and the sensible citizens of the United States who would like to own a gun. This would be the best case scenario and I'm sure that many people would join me in suggesting that the best conclusion would be one where both parties meet somewhere in the middle.