The Second Amendment to the US Constitution giving citizens the right to bear arms is a highly contested provision, written centuries ago at a time when British invasion was a real possibility. The idea was that owning weaponry would allow for home defence and keeping out the King of England. However, this has since escalated into a situation where citizens own high powered military rifles and after a series of disasters, the legislature appears powerless. There is some encouragement however as retailer Walmart announced to raise its age restriction on gun sales to 21.
School shootings are nothing new in America and the most recent one will most likely not be anywhere near the last. Nevertheless, last week’s incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has sparked a change in attitudes amongst many laypeople and gun suppliers, even if the same cannot be said for the executive and legislature. Walmart announced its decision saying: –
“In light of recent events our company will require people to be 21 or over to buy guns and ammunition and we will also pull items “resembling assault-style rifles” from our website, including toy guns”
Dick Kerr Sporting Goods have also followed a similar suit to Walmart saying in a recent statement: –
“We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organising and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country. We have heard you. The nation has heard you”
Many students of the recently affected school in Parkland are now gradually returning to school but with a Republican Congress having rejected a nationwide increase in the age restrictions on guns, they are protesting for change and an assurance that this won’t happen again. One survivor David Hogg told NBC: –
“Imagine getting in a plane crash and having to get back on the same plane again and again and again and being expected to learn and act like nothing’s wrong. That’s what is being expected of us should the law not change”
In a move which surprised many President Donald Trump has pushed for a ban on the sale of bump stocks. These are simple conversion kits which allow semi-automatic rifles to have an increased magazine and be fired at a similar rate to machine guns. These have been used in numerous high-profile shootings so that perpetrators don’t raise suspicion buying a fully automatic weapon. Trump said: –
“We must move past clichés and tired debates, and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work and that make it easier for men and women of law enforcement to protect our children and protect our safety”
The problem for Trump is that the National Rifle Association is one of the biggest backer and a big reason he won the 2016 election. He stated on that campaign trail that if the American people elected Clinton she would take their guns away. In line with his allegiances, he has already ignored the mass shooting in Las Vegas and rolled back numerous Obama measures on gun control. What action he takes could define his presidency and you would be forgiven for not being very optimistic.