In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting that took place on Feb. 14, students and staff in both private and public schools began organizing walkouts to advocate for stricter gun laws United States. Two walkouts are already scheduled for March 14 and 24, and an increasing number of students want to participate in the National High School Walkout on April 20. Marchers intend not to return to school until Congress reacts. However, these protests hardly stand a chance of guaranteeing students’ safety in the future.
These protests are unlikely to truly sway Congress as Americans themselves are heavily divided on gun-control issues. A survey about necessary gun control measures was conducted by YouGov on Feb. 17. The majority of participants showed a desire to take gun ownership-related precautions: 81 percent agreed it is necessary to prevent people with a history of mental illness from owning guns and 78 percent believe criminal and mental background checks for anyone who buys a gun must be required. However, opinions are divided on more radical measures, such as limiting the number of handguns a person can own — which was supported by 50 percent of those surveyed — and banning the same of all handguns to the public — which only 27 percent of responders supported. These numbers show that the path toward a severe gun control reform undertaken by school students will be a thorny one. In light of current events, people’s unwillingness to let go of their weapons might originate from an insecurity in depriving people of their commonplace self-defense.
Another major economic agent interested in shutting down the anti-gun violence youth movement and perpetuating pro-gun policies is the National Rifle Association of America. This lobbying group that was founded in 1871 with the goal of supporting rifle marksmanship and now counts over five million members has influenced the legislation, presidential elections and outcome of gun-related lawsuits. The NRA’s spokesperson Dana Loesch voiced the organization’s response to the so-called hype they believe the Florida shooting created. “Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” she stated at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 22. “You guys love it. I’m not saying that you love the tragedy but I’m saying that you love the ratings,” she said. She claimed that the media workers blew the tragedy out of proportion in search for profit, thus implying that the school shooting wasn’t a reason strong enough for Congress to consider a gun policy reform.
But let’s imagine — for a brief moment — that Congress yields to people’s cries and issues anti-gun legislation. As the survey showed, many citizens would oppose it and possibly seek for illegal ways to procure a gun. Such a radical decision therefore isn’t an option as it would give the black market for guns room to expand and prosper. Nevertheless, the 18 school shootings that occurred in United States since the beginning of 2018 alone refute the effectiveness of mild measures.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 26 print edition. Email Dasha Zagurskaya at [email protected]