“It’s like the front lines of a war.” A student at the Texas Santa Fe High School, where 8 students and 2 teachers were shot and killed on Friday May 18, 2018, (less than two weeks to go before the end of the school year.)
“We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. As the Brady Campaign, we work to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence.”—Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Mission statement, 1974.
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”—Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman, and author.
American schools have increasingly become shooting galleries in a war that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is winning, with the help of venal politicians and clueless Supreme Court Justices, against American students and teachers. In the U.S., criminals, crazies and angry types alike can buy attack weapons of any kind, at will. As a consequence, when students and teachers go to school in the morning, they and their parents are never certain if they are going to come back home, after school. If you follow the news, you may have gotten the impression that American schools have become a lottery of death. Students and teachers have become the innocent pawns whose lives are being cut short to please the fanaticism and the gun idolatry of the NRA.
This was not the case fifty years ago. What has changed for the worse is an increasing lack of moral responsibility on the part of people in authority in the United States, and a rise in political corruption, which has allowed private organizations and entities, such as the NRA and the makers of guns, to buy up politicians to replace the common good in favor of narrow private interests. The editorial boards of newspapers and other media are also to blame for their lack of moral fortitude in not taking clearer stands against this widespread corruption. They are all accomplices, to a certain degree, in the epidemic of mass murders of children and teenagers in American schools.
Between 2012 and 2017, there has been no less than 239 school shootings in the United States—more than three gun shootings each month—and the massacres continue, month after month, relentlessly. The most irresponsible-in-chief is the current U.S. President, Donald Trump, who cowardly and publicly echoes the NRA propaganda motto that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Such statements sweep under the rug another evidence, and that is that the instruments of killing do matter. In fact, guns are front and center in all mass killings. Military style automatic weapons can kill hundreds of people in a short span of time. This was well illustrated in Las Vegas, on October 1, 2017, when a heavily armed killer assassinated 58 persons attending a concert, and wounded 851 others, before he was found dead in his hotel room. He could not have done so much killing and wounding with his fists or with a knife! The type of weapons used were responsible for the high number of victims.
Of course, it takes a wicked, or a deranged or troubled individual, to kill another human being. That is a universal truth. However, given that evidence, the easiest it is for an evil or a deranged person to have access to deadly instruments of killing, the more killing there will be. This is a truth that some people refuse to accept, even though it is only pure logic. They pretend that they need an arsenal of heavy automatic weapons to protect themselves and their family against attacks. From whom? Is this paranoia or not? What can be said is that such a stand is illogical because when everybody is heavily armed, everybody is in mortal danger, even policemen who are entrusted with law enforcement to keep public order.
Indeed, many policemen are killed each year while being ambushed by heavily armed individuals. Between 2006 and 2016, some 1,500 police officers have been killed on duty, in the United States. As consequence, police officers are increasingly on their guard and may have become trigger-happy, because so many people are roaming the streets and highways while being armed to the teeth. This may have encouraged police officers to become more prone to overreact in some dangerous situations, to protect their own lives, but in so doing, they may threaten the lives of unarmed citizens. Arming every citizen, as some have proposed, not the least being U.S. President Donald Trump, would only make a bad situation worse, and it would risk bringing the United States to the threshold of an anarchic civil war.
But pure logic seems to have somewhat disappeared from the public discourse in the United State, and it has been replaced by a twisted and deranged logic, especially when the issue of easy access to sophisticated military-style automatic weapons is concerned.
The original constitutional guarantee, in the United States, to own a musket in order for ordinary civilians to dutifully join “a well-regulated militia” to defend the land, at a time when most people lived on a farm and at a time when the United States had only a small professional army, has been exploited and corrupted a few centuries later, and has been elevated to the status of an absolute and unregulated right, for any individual, to have as many military-style attack weapons as he can afford, even in a close urban environment. This is a clear abuse of language and would seem to be far remote from the initial intention.
For some gun enthusiasts, indeed, the right to own lethal weapons would seem to supersede the right to life for everybody else, and private interests would seem to trump public interest. A society that accepts those crooked principles in this day and age is well on its way to social decay and disintegration.
Since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, there have been no less than 139 American students, teachers and others who have been assassinated in American schools, and close to 300 other people who have been injured, by disgruntled and heavily armed killers. Only three months ago, this time at a South Florida High School, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018, seventeen people, (14 students and 3 instructors) were murdered at the hands of an expelled student, armed with an AR-15-style assault weapon.
While the problem persists, people tend to forget and move on to other preoccupations, that is, until the next mass killing in another school occurs.
Young Americans are reported to be increasingly eager to register to vote. This is a good sign. The political pendulum has swung too far in favor of the private right to own automatic guns for some and not enough in favor of public safety for all. Maybe the American youth will bring back sanity, in due time, to that deadly debate.
Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an international economist and author, whose last two books are The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003. He can be reached at: email@example.com.