Bite The Bullet

1,077. The number of individual lives lost to mass shootings in the US over the last half-century. 292. The number of guns used to aid the shooters in committing their crimes.

These numbers may mean nothing to someone
watching a report on the news, but to many, they mean the world. Behind the
statistics lie the stories of every single victim – from eight-month- old Carlos
Reyes, shot to death in a Californian McDonald’s to 98-year old Louise De Kler,
murdered within the safety of her own nursing home. But these people will no
longer be remembered for their stories; instead they have become a contribution
to the taunting 1,077.

According to Australian research from 2015, the quantity of guns
surpasses the US’s population, with a ratio of 100 guns per American citizen.
Furthermore, out of the world’s 18 most deadly mass shootings in the last
decades, 7 took place in the United States. Mass shootings are still an undefined
concept, a construction that is becoming more and more of a social norm. Is this
healthy? Should people have to bite the bullet and accept that deaths by gun are
equally as likely to occur in America as car accidents?

Survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have decided that
reforming the country’s gun policies has become their number 1 priority. Action
is a necessity. In the weeks following America’s latest shooting, the students
formed a group, “#NeverAgain”. They have organised various protests and
marches, and plan to march on Washington D.C. on the 24 th of March. It is
interesting to observe that despite the time it has taken for change to
materialize, the majority of individuals performing it are in fact from within the
younger generations. Though it may not reflect well on the people who have
official positions of power in the US, the younger people of our society will
ultimately be the ones who take charge over the next 50 years. Thus, change is
bound to arrive.

Regarding the students of America, I decided to interview various students
currently living and attending school in the state of Kentucky. The state of
Kentucky voted Trump into power in the 2016 elections, and after a recent
school shooting in which two children were killed the state has proposed to
allow school staff to carry guns. However, I was more curious to know what is
going through the mind of an under-18 year old from Kentucky.

When affronted with the straight-up question on whether guns are vital to
defend one’s self, a majority of the students quickly confirmed. One claimed,
“guns are a part of the American culture, they have been used for hunting for
years”. However, when I explained that gun control is tight in Italy and that
shootings hardly ever occur, none of them could find a way to respond. I moved
on to asking about the change in gun law within the state and one girl stated, “I
don’t think that guns should be given to staff. I mean anyone could have access to
them and this will only increase the likelihood of mass shootings”.

Moving onto a broader topic of discussion I asked for one student to come forward and give their internal view on violence in the US. One of the younger girls expressed her
despair: “I think it is sad that we have to resort to protecting ourselves like this
in school. Everyone is blaming Trump but it’s not really up to him, the power lies
in the hands of the Supreme Court”. Curious to meet a Trump supporter, I
expanded on this and asked who truly supports the President of the US. Most of
the class shied away from this, but one member stood up. He seemed
proud. But his reasons were insufficient, “He seems like an intelligent guy…I
mean, he’s smart enough to be President.” Immediately afterwards he changed
the subject, asking me a question about culture in Italy, which only emphasized
the fact that no one truly can give a reason for backing up their President.

One thing that can be said for sure is that guns are an issue. An issue that young
individuals in America desperately know must be solved. Living in Italy, most
people may feel that they are powerless over taking action but you can make a
difference. Petitions online are available to sign, and if you’re one of the lucky
few that can travel to the U.S. – make sure to join in on protests. Change lies in
the numbers who demand it.

Join the newsletter to always stay up to date on global and local issues!