In wake of the most recent mass shooting on 14th February at Stoneman Douglas High school, there have been countless protests calling into question the current gun laws which exist in the USA.
17 people were killed when gun man, a former student, Nikolas Cruz walked into the school on Wednesday afternoon. He triggered the fire alarms before proceeding to shoot the pupils as they walked out into the corridors.
After six minutes of shooting, Cruz dropped his rifle, which he had recently purchased from his local gun store, and joined the crowds of terrified students as they fled the scene.
Cruz reportedly made it to a nearby Subway where he purchased a drink before being arrested by police- he has pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of murder and will face life imprisonment.
This horrific shooting has rekindled the gun debate in America that has been simmering for the past several years.
So, what are the facts and figures on gun crime in the USA as of today?
The Stoneman Douglas high school shooting was the eighteenth school shooting to happen in 2018, an incredibly large amount within such a short space of time.
In 2015, there were 64 school shootings, whilst the USA has apparently 300 million guns currently in their country, and these are only the licensed ones, pointing to the fact that there are actually more guns than people in the US.
In 2015 alone, there were 372 mass shootings in the US, killing 475 people and wounding over 1000, whilst large massacres such as Sandy Hook and Columbine still stand as horrifically stark reminders of gun violence.
Of course, these figures are based on mass shootings, where four or more people are killed in one area. When it comes to gun incidents, the numbers stand at nearly 14,000 killed in 2015 alone and a staggering 26,000 injured.
Despite all of this, the National Rifle Association are simply not budging on their stance with guns.
America and gun control is a hot topic. As the second ammendment in their constitution, many see the right to own guns as a vital sign of their freedom and citizenship in the USA.
Then there is also funding. Donald Trump received a combined $21 million dollars from the National Rifle Association for his presidential campaign in 2016, whilst his promise to uphold the second amendment right, a feature which Obama regularly expressed his lack of control over, definitely worked to gain Trump the vote.
So, each time the message is the same. People call for more laws on gun control in the USA after each mass shooting. They want tighter security checks, less availability, age restrictions and extensive background investigations, all factors which have been known to work in other countries, each time, however, nothing is done.
After the mass shooting at Dunblaine Primary School, the UK cracked down on gun control. They introduced the fire arms act of 1997, this effectively banned all cartridge ammunition guns with the only exception of 22 calibre guns in the UK. After the general election, Tony Blair banned the rest.
The only guns now allowed in the UK are sporting guns, commonly used for recreational hunting, and historical show guns. To own either of these, extensive background and security checks have to be done, you also have to prove that you are storing the gun safely and securely, locked away from family members and friends.
However, little has been done for gun control in the USA, even down to the manner in which guns are stored.
Many children are killed or injured everyday from finding guns in their a family home. Guns kill nearly 1,300 children by accidental misfire every single year in America, whilst nearly half of all guns are not stored correctly and are often in plain sight and reach of children.
Despite the significant lack of action after each mass shooting, with Trump eager to protect the second amendment by supporting the National Rifle Association’s every decision, there has been some change in the form of a considerable youth campaign against guns and the violence that they can bring.
Students, pupils and young people have been taking to the streets, marching and speaking in Washington and even conversing with the President in order to bring about change. Though all of this, there has only been one statement on these pupil’s lips; ‘never again’.
They are determined to ensure that they are the last people to suffer the loss that gun crime can bring, and it some ways, it is already making a difference.
Although gun laws in the USA are relatively relaxed, there are some changes happening. Today, Walmart declared that they would be increasing the age restriction on the purchase of their guns to 21, they were soon followed in their decision by Kroger and Dicks.
Dick’s have also ended the sale of all assault rifles and magazines in their stores, they will no longer sell them in store or make them for special orders.
Walmart have even stated that they will not sell assault rifles, including air guns and toys.
There have also been many companies who have ended their partnerships with the National Rifle Association after the mass shooting, these include Hertz Car Rental, Met Life Insurance and Delta Airlines.
Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, expressed his pride in the US youth in a tweet put out this week in which he earnestly insists that the country has been ‘waiting for you, We’ve got your backs’.
Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) 22 February 2018
Pupils are effectively working on two fronts. They are currently lobbying politicians in Florida to pass stricter state gun laws, whilst in Washington, they are converging next month to petition to congress to crack down on gun control and hopefully to ban assault rifles.
However, despite all this, many American people are simply seeing more guns as the answer.
A school in Kentucky voted this week to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons, a decision which has been widely approved of as it is seen as the best measure to protect children in schools.
However, is it not deeply saddening that many American people feel that their children are no longer safe in places of learning?
Should we really be giving possibly unqualified teachers an assault weapon to use under high stress and intense situations?
Whatever the answer, it appears that American Gun Control will remain a contested and debated topic until an agreement is reached to stop all this death and injury, with the youth march set to happen this month, maybe there will be some change on the horizon.
We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.