During the entire two weeks I was in the US, the main topic which seemed to dominate the news every night was the planned march on Washington DC, which took place on the second Saturday I was there. There were plenty of journalists, TV talk show hosts and other people who felt they were qualified to comment on the march. Arguments for and against were put forward and had I not had sufficient time to sit down and process it all, my brain could have been easily overloaded.
To put it down to basics, March For Our Lives was a protest against gun violence born out of the school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida a few weeks ago. Young people, sickened by the shooting that took place at their school, which left seventeen people dead and the same number wounded, said “Enough was enough,” and decided to do something about it. What they did was to stage a huge march on Washington DC, demanding the nation’s lawmakers do something concrete about guns in America. The eyes of the nation were on them and fellow students from schools around the country joined in on the March.
Here are some of my thoughts and reactions to the events. First, while many on the March were calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment, (The right to bear arms), it wasn’t the main focus of the march. What these young demonstrators were seeking was that America’s lawmakers take a serious look at the gun laws in the country. Whether I want it or not, I don’t think the Second Amendment will ever be repealed as it’s too ingrained in the American psyche. However, I shake my head at all levels of law enforcement who don’t adequately enforce the gun laws already on the books. I’ve said this before, adequate enforcement of existing laws would be a great place to start. Another point I made a few weeks back was that the Parkland shooter wasn’t old enough to legally buy a beer but old enough to legally buy an assault rifle. To me, this is dead wrong! I am in total agreement with raising the age of gun ownership to 21.
Some of the anti-march brigade suggested the “Walk Up” approach. What they mean is that students should be encouraged to walk up to and offer friendship to someone who might be seen as a loner or an outcast as those are the ones who have the most potential of becoming a school shooter. I agree with this. For too long, young people have been encouraged to sneer and look down upon those they consider ‘weirdoes’ or outcasts. In some cases, young students can increase their prestige in school by victimizing or hazing such people. This too needs to end. I can identify with this personally because I was considered one of those outcasts and bullied to the point where I could have easily shot up my school. Fortunately, I didn’t have access to guns.
Another interesting development in the events leading up to the march was the involvement of high school students from urban areas. See, America only seems to take note when tragedies like this happen in ‘white kids schools.’ I saw an interview with some African American students from Baltimore who were going on the march. One student stated that eight of his classmates had been shot in the past year but the media seems to take no notice of it. What they were hoping to achieve was to let everyone know that guns can effect all students no matter of their race or social-economic background. This too needs to be addressed.
Since I don’t like writing posts that are too overlong and I’m in danger of doing this, I’ll end with this. I hope that the March For Our Lives succeeded in making the nation’s law makers look seriously at the country’s gun laws. I also hope that the march also highlighted the other issues that go with school shootings, metal illness, bullying, ignoring people who may be genuinely hurting and a host of others. Maybe then, the violence will end.
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