Why walking out can help save the lives of Americans
Students in America are concerned for their safety, and this Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m., many of those students across the nation will walk out of their classrooms and stand in solidarity for 17 minutes to support legislative change to gun-control laws. The time frame symbolizes the 17 victims who died in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day during a mass shooting. Flyers seen around campus are promoting a similar walkout to be held at the clocktower at the same time.
Major reform to gun control legislation is a highly contested issue right now, and that is no surprise considering the current state of affairs in America. Therefore, the questions I keep asking myself are: “Will I walk out and stand with them? Will I walk out of my classroom at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, and march to the clocktower in support of change?” I wonder if you also ask yourselves the same thing.
Curious, the fickleness of some on this issue is to those who seem to see things so clearly. Is not the answer clear as day? Have enough people not died from gun violence already?
From 2000 to 2015, the amount of deaths resulting from mass shootings in the United States increased by more than 100 percent according the National Center for Victims of Crime. Those numbers do not include 2016 and 2017, which saw the deaths of over 100 people in the Orlando and Las Vegas shootings. The statistics have shown no sign of change or de-escalation.
Many contest that certain types of gun reform will be highly problematic. I can understand why some leap inductively to that conclusion. Let’s say, hypothetically, that we choose to regulate guns and create new legislation. Let’s also say that a proposed bill outlaws high capacity magazines and AR-15s. Commissioning and implementing those regulations is going to cost the taxpayer more money, and some would even attest that the choice to remove those weapons forcefully is a violation of our 2nd amendment. In case you have forgotten, here is how that reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As a “free State,” the people want the right to defend themselves against an abusive or tyrannical government, and what happened with England in the 18th century warranted the addition of this clause to our constitution. Imagine that instead of a civilian having their high-capacity magazines confiscated, you are a revolutionary colonial having your bayonet confiscated. The government has bayonets, and if you are to defend yourself from that government, should you not also have a bayonet? Should you not also have hand-grenades and surface-to-air missiles?
So, do we need high capacity magazines? Are we facing a tyrannical overthrow? I think not. There is no evidence that the government is planning to strip away the democratic rights of the people. We have democracy, and democracy only works if the people come together, but the people are failing to unite for a common cause because of divisive rhetorical partisan bombardment.
Here is another plausible outcome from our hypothetical scenario, and it is a positive one: less guns means less deaths. Period. If you live in the the United States, the leading country in homicide deaths per million by firearm, you are 285 percent times more likely to die from bullets than if you lived in the number two country, Switzerland. Additionally, Americans own 42 percent of all guns in the world.
You may think that this correlation is a hasty generalization considering the size of our military and the magnitude of our industrial military complex, but it is strikingly eerie that other developed countries who also manufacture and sell arms and keep large militaries follow the same mathematical trend.
Now, I know that people are going to take the lives of others with or without guns. They will find weapons, as they always do, and they will inflict harm upon others in horrible ways. Mental health and our ability to maintain effective healthcare that can focus on those mental health issues is a problem that is by no means victimless, but the valuative climate in which our country currently exists is laying the foundation for future problems. Division, not unity, is the trade wind coursing America’s vessel..
Maybe you feel that regulation is a slippery slope, and that taking away one right sets precedent for the abandonment of constitutional rights and American values. Maybe you feel that people are evil, and regulating certain rights will not change the outcome. Maybe you feel that mental healthcare needs reform. Whatever your feel, consider this:
The strength of our freedom –the spark of individuality, diversity, and democracy– came from an outspoken and strong people coming together to create change and find solutions. Those brave souls, who stood up for the people when no one else would, inspired those with power to make progress.
Right now, our country is in trouble, and we need to come together as a unit to find a way to keep children from being shot and killed from within the walls of our educational systems. How did we break away from the rule of the Crown? Protest, then reform. How did we end slavery? Protest, then reform. How did we strengthen our civil rights? Protest, then reform. The nature of Americans is to stand up together for what we believe in to make a change, and as one, we can make our voices heard.
If you believe that reform to gun laws will not change the number of mass school shootings in America, then you probably won’t walk out. And, if that is your stance, I respect it, but I would like you to ask yourself if you really know the answer. Do you really know that legislative reform will have no effect on the death toll of American students?
We raise our children together and protect them as a community. We feed them, shelter them, and we teach them. If they die because we failed to listen or stand up and speak out when we knew there was a problem, then it is we as a community who have failed to protect them, and it is we who have let them die.