This year, 2018, has seen an out of control spike in gun attacks in schools, averaging one attack every five days. It has resulted in students out on the streets, marching for gun control, but because of the gun culture in America and the political system, at this point, perhaps there is little that can be done.
There is pressure from the the gun rights group, the NRA, supported by Trump, to maintain the status quo of loose gun sales, but also pressure from the public to change gun laws. In America, buying a gun while underage is as easy as finding a non-regulated seller, or a private party online. Not helping matters is the fact that a near majority of households possess firearms, making the potential market for third party sales very large. With this in mind, how is it possible to construct an effective regulation that covers such gaping loopholes? Is it possible to reduce school shootings when nearly every house has a gun that kids can get access to?
Another major piece of this puzzle is addressing school bullying. Certain schoolplaces not only maintain a culture of aggression and retaliation, but may provide the impetus for some killings. Statistics indicate that 31% of American elementary and middle school students are victims of bullying, totalling about 13 million kids. Even former US President Obama was a victim as a child. Out of 37 school shootings in the past 25 years, 32% were past victims of bullying. New forms of bullying are not limited to verbal or physical bullying, but also encompass online bullying. It can be invasive, long term, and consume home and private life, even out of school. This incessant pressure can cause students to commit suicide, or even commit acts of violence against their aggressors.
Bullying is a problem of immaturity, but also reflects the education system and culture. Teachers have a responsibility to lead their students and protect the weak amongst them, while educating, and this is no small task. It is not, however, the responsibility of teachers to become armed police. Students need also to be accountable for their actions when they discriminate or disrespect their peers. Without turning schools into places of violence and punishment, bullying should be stopped and treated as serious, and the teachers should not allow victims’ emotional wounds to fester into hate. If the violent impulse and culture of hatred is stopped, perhaps it can prevent the interminable deaths of students.
Trump’s stated ideas for combatting school violence
- Expanded background checks for buyers
- Improving the database of those who should be restricted from gun purchases
- Improve sharing of state and US federal criminal data
- Mandate background checks for private online and gun show purchases
- Age restrictions
- Raise the federal age for firearms purchase from 18 to 21
- Improve school responses to threats of violence
- Congress has suggested improving school security and training of officials to deal with threats, including anonymous ones
- Banning bumpstocks
- Congress has suggested banning the tool used to allow semi-automatic weapons to fire a continuous volley with one trigger press
- Arming teachers
- Allowing a portion of teachers to receive training, and permit them to carry concealed weapons. Trump views this as the most effective policy.
Staff writer: Kristy Chen
Photo credit: Sebastián León Prado