I grew up sensitised to stories such as the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre. I was three years old when my favourite show, Teletubbies, got interrupted by a live broadcast coming from New York City as the Twin Towers fell. In 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Michael Devlin, an American criminal convicted of kidnapping and sexual abuse, a few blocks away from my childhood home.
As a child, it seemed like stories instilling paranoia and horror surrounded the American public. However, it was not until the July 2012 movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado, that I realised this was an issue that didn’t face other countries to the same degree. Unlike the prior events, this shooting was the beginning of regular massacres and a tragic phenomenon of gun violence in the United States. From this point forward, life as I knew it would never be the same.
In the early stages, police were hired by the elementary schools as guards. Then a system of identification cards were integrated into the public high school policies. Parents were required to get police screenings if they wanted to volunteer on school-sponsored field trips. Intruder drills were implemented and precautions were taken.
The next phase was the introduction of ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate) training for teachers and academic staff. This method, though terrifying, is not necessarily effective. When my former high school was used as a test by the local news station, a fake intruder was allowed into the school and no one took any notice or stopped the intruder. I personally believe we are entering the final stages of these extreme measures, with Trump proposing that teachers themselves should carry guns.
Coming from a liberal city in a notoriously Republican state, I have heard all sides of the gun debate, but I can say with the utmost certainty that high school students’ walkouts don’t have enough ammunition to fight against the National Rifle Association (NRA). Peaceful protests may have worked in the past, but I highly doubt Donald Trump cares enough to listen.
Under Trump, the US government is a liability. There is little stopping them implementing whatever extreme measures they wish. Trump’s ideal is an America where people can go out shooting turkey, laughing about passing gas and drinking Mountain Dew on the weekends for fun.
There are quite a few of such living stereotypes in America, but the majority of Republicans and pro-gun advocates are normal people; it may be your neighbour or your friend who quietly supports gun touting despite the violence. They are in the majority, and they won’t be easily swayed.
The US is on the verge of civil conflict and at present, the Republicans have the upper hand. They control all the branches of the government, from the executive branch which houses the President, to the legislative branch which contains the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Five out of the nine judges in the US Supreme Court were appointed by Republican Presidents. There is no question that they are exerting the most control over the government. The Republican Party is also the party that is pro-gun. There is no challenging their strength and they have the weight of the NRA behind them.
Arguably peaceful protests are not enough, so what plan could the Democratic Party possibly conjure up that would drive their anti-gun point home? Knives? Poisonous gas? Acid? The answer is simple, none of the above. Democrats will never resort to violence under any circumstances, but the Republicans will go on ignoring anti-gun arguments.
This divide began about a decade before I was born. It is nothing out of the ordinary for nations to be regressive in weapon policy as the US has been. However, the length of time that gun ownership has remained facilitated by the legal system says something about the direction that America is headed.
Since former US President, George H. W. Bush, the US has alternated between Republican and Democratic presidents. This inconsistency and divided nature of the American population is threatening the safety of the next generation even more so than the debate of guns.
There is an indecisiveness from within that could lead to a potential threat from the outside taking advantage of the war. Essentially, the American public is as much a threat among themselves right now as they are to the outside. Although, if another civil war breaks out, there will most likely not be another generation to see whatever happens next. Especially not with modern technology and modern weapons.
Regardless of the political party to which they belong, Americans all over are terrified and the gun debate might just pull the trigger. The stakes are even higher now that high school students are campaigning themselves.