By David Swanson
I asked my Facebook page which high school teacher they’d least like to have had a gun in their desk. Go read their answers.
I’d elect those people over any recent president or any current member of Congress.
These bursts of public discussion with dashes of sanity thrown in that follow each particularly media-covered mass-shooting are always encouraging. And it’s especially encouraging to have young people being allowed to have a say.
But let’s be clear about the limitations of what’s happened so far. The first set of limitations is those that are created by universal militarism worship.
These kids were killed by a kid trained to kill by the JROTC, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Congress, and your tax dollars, with a bit of spare change thrown in by the NRA. He was trained to shoot and praised for it in the same school where he shot and was condemned for it. He committed his crimes wearing his JROTC shirt. He did not separate the good shooting from the bad shooting in his mind. Neither, apparently, do the U.S. military veterans who make up a hugely disproportionate share of mass-shooters in the U.S. They’ve been praised for mass-murder of non-Americans. They are then killed or imprisoned and roundly condemned (but made famous) for the mass-murder of people in the United States. Perhaps one of their failures is to draw a sharp enough nationalistic line. The United States is the one nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child which forbids military recruitment of minors. The U.S. military describes JROTC as a recruitment program that results in some 30% of participants joining the U.S. military. Some students are put into JROTC against their will. In addition, the U.S. has had mass-shootings on military bases, literally surrounded by “good guys with guns.” And, of course, the majority of the human beings killed with U.S. weapons on any given day are outside the United States. A foreign policy based on guns is no less insane than a classroom based on guns. None of this is mentioned, not by students, not by parents, not by teachers, not by anti-NRA organizers. What students and others are now saying is terrific because they are saying it, and because TV corporations are showing it, but it is the same things others have been saying for years, and it is bound by the same restrictions as to what it is permissible to mention.
Another set of limitations are those created by a system of legalized bribery. While you can get an auditorium full of people to demand that a senator stop taking legalized bribes from the gun industry, the senator can still spit in your face and count on the weapons profiteers to give him enough money to buy enough advertisements (plus related free corporate media) to sway many more people than are in the room. Of course, such powers are not invincible. If you continue building a strong enough movement, you may in some cases overcome them. But the world will not help. The United Nations and related institutions are under the thumbs of the five permanent security council members, and most nations are afraid to morally condemn or sanction the United States. And the media coverage won’t continue. Other stories, important or trivial, will take over. You’ll go on holding rallies and demanding change, but people will accuse you of having stopped because you won’t be on TV anymore. And it’s then that you’ll have to really push hard to organize and encourage and inspire a public that believes television is more real than the actual world.
If you do push on, as I hope you will, I recommend forming alliances with other groups working on related issues, joining forces and finding more strength. If you try that approach, it may at some point begin to look strategic to mention the existence of the JROTC.