On Wednesday, February 14, Parkland suffered a violent episode of mass shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School depicted by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was a school’s former student. Carrying a rifle AR-15, the incident caused seventeen people to die and left fifteen injured. However, this episode was the fourteenth mass shooting to happen in a school in the US in 2018 alone and has been counted as one of the ten deadliest mass shootings in the country’s history.
Different from previous episodes when the authorities have regretted they happened and offered their condolences and prayers, the Stoneman Douglas High School students have reacted fearlessly against the permanence of the status quo in regards to gun control. The #NeverAgain movement was headed by Emma González in an emotional and strong speech in front of the Broward County Courthouse, where she criticized President Trump and other politicians for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Furthermore, Emma embodies a new America, of Cuban descent and bisexual, as she declares. (Read more here.) The movement has seized the opportunity to ask for real gun control measures.
In response, the authorities have slipped with their alternatives. Trump argued there should be more psychiatric hospitals, attributing the episode to mental illness, despite it is inconclusive the percentage of mentally ill (1%) as perpetrators of gun related violence, but they are rather the victims. Then, he proposed teachers should be armed in order to defend students, in trade for a bonus. This suggests dealing with this phenomenon by adding more guns to the table, in order to “minimize the carnage” as weaponized schools argue. And, in little time, the security industry started promoting bulletproof vests for students as well as other pieces of similar equipment, leading to a surge in sales. Also in order to seize this event, the NRA launched a national promotional campaign paying visits to schools, when their spokesperson tried to dissuade people from thinking guns are not dangerous, arguing vulnerable people can defend themselves with guns, rather than being victims of them, as most cases. Following this line, the Oath Keepers, an extremist armed militia group, started organizing to “prevent” mass shootings. They are against control and argued they could defend schools standing guard outside from them.
This possibility had a quick reaction from the teachers’ body igniting the #ArmMeWith movement when teachers expressed their real needs inside the classrooms, such as higher salaries, enough social workers and psychologists to attend to all students’ demands, libraries etc, none mentioned any guns.
More recently, there has been some positive developments in regards to the gun control demands, many shops have complied to adapting to stricter rules and even President Trump has declared support for gun control measures, by improving the background check system, without exempting his support for the Second Amendment. This prompted an emergency meeting with the NRA. Another positive outcome was the NPR/Ipsos recently released poll. The study shares evidence that the support of 74% for the second amendment – the right to owning guns – remains intact in comparison to 2017. In comparison, however, gun control has rocketed as one of the most worrying country’s issues, surging from 27 to 37%. Almost all Americans (94%) support requiring background checks for all gun buyers, more than 8 in 10 (82%) favor raising the legal age to purchase a gun to 21, and 59% oppose training teachers to carry guns in schools and see it as the least effective way to reduce gun violence in schools.
However, despite all this, we should not ignore former studies that indicate the root causes to this repetitive phenomenon, that cast a light on how this revolves around gender asymmetry, power relations and masculinities, as 98% of shooters are male and most are white, as studies demonstrate.
Men own guns at triple the rate of women in the U.S., at 62 percent compared to 22 percent—and also commit suicide at nearly triple the rate of women. Eighty-nine percent of murder-suicides are committed by men, and most often include an unwitting female partner or ex-partner. (Murder suicides claim 1,200 American lives annually; nearly all of them are committed with a gun.) In fact, more than half of mass shootings (54 percent) are actually domestic violence incidents. And according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which tracks court cases involving domestic violence, 86 percent of the perpetrators of domestic violence documented in court cases are men. To be sure, a variety of factors are associated with committing serious violence, such as a history of binge drinking, childhood abuse, living in a neighborhood with a high rate of violent crime and experiencing stressful life events. (Source: POLITICO Magazine)
The Sexuality Policy Watch gathered an assemblage of news and articles that cover and analyze the issue:
Do We Need to Redefine Masculinity—Or Get Rid of It? – The Nation
Out Of Bloodshed, Hope For Gun Control – The Nation
Has the NRA Finally Met Its Match? – The Nation
Violence Does Not Occur in a Vaccum – The Representation Project
Guns Are the Embodiment of Toxic Masculinity, Not The Solution – The Representation Project
The Link Between Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings – The New Yorker
Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; Blame Men – Politico Magazine
The Boys Are Not All Right – The New York Times
Reporting on a Mass Shooting, Again – the New York Times
What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer – The New York Times
Men Are Responsible for Mass Shootings – Harpers Bazaar