The firearms debate in the United States has flared up again in the wake of the school shooting in Florida on 14 February. Increasing numbers of citizens are protesting against the widespread possession of weapons. A March for Our Lives is planned for 24 March. Will anything really change now? Antoni Malachowski doubts it.
‘These shootings are terrible, sad and pointless. I think the root of the problem lies in the number of guns that are around and how easily you can purchase them. Shootings happen so regularly in the US that I got a bit desensitized about it: for me it feels like just another news item. However, I am impressed by the actions of students now, confronting politicians with reality. They make me feel that it shouldn’t be such a political issue to protect the citizens of your country.
But in the end, the issue is polarized too much by the party politics of the United States, so I have lost hope that anything will really change. Current lobbying practices like those used by the National Rifle Association are undemocratic. Then about president Trump: he suggests that teacher receive guns to stop attackers. This way he sidesteps seriously addressing the issue. He says so many careless things, it is unbecoming for a president.
What is currently less visible is the strong gun culture that is still alive in many parts of the United States. Among some groups of young men, it is perceived as cool to possess a gun and be able to handle it. This is clear in certain popular Youtube videos. In my home state of Michigan, a lot of people value deer hunting. In my secondary school, a boy once brought some hunting bullets and was showing off with them. Although he did get suspended, I find the incident illustrative of the gun culture. And then in some states, people are even prouder of their guns. I think the forces that want to keep guns around are still really strong.’