Week after week, massacres in schools and public places keep occurring in the United States. The pain, indignation and calls for gun control arrive, but as the days pass by, this clamor loses steam when it crashes against a wall that has been raised by politics and history, to the point where not a single president, Democrat or Republican, has managed to overcome it: Carrying a weapon in this country is a right, and limiting it is an attack on freedom, protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution.*
However, there are signs that perhaps this time it might be different, if people are willing. After the attack on Valentine's Day in which a young man entered a Florida school from which he was previously expelled to murder 17 of his former classmates and teachers, the survivors, family members and large sectors started to mobilize to make a difference. Under the platform #NeverAgain, thousands have gathered in Florida cities to demand answers from legislators, and a great national march is being planned on March 24 in Washington, with the purpose of shaming the political class for not preventing this blood bath. There is hope.
We use the term “blood bath” because the numbers are horrifying. In 2018 so far, 1,828 people have died, victims of firearms; this includes suicides, robberies, and accidental shootings, among other things, that have turned into a type of bloody tally.
There are several things to take into consideration. The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 during a turbulent time in which the country had only been independent for a few years. There was financial instability and turf wars, and allowing citizens to carry a gun somehow guaranteed that they would be able to defend themselves. But the difference between the old muskets with three rounds and modern rifles that can shoot from 45 cartridges per minute is one of life and death.
After yet another of the tragedies that occurred during his administration, former President Obama wondered whether an assault rifle is necessary to defend ourselves or is a pistol enough. But the confirmation of reality was brutal. After each massacre, the purchase of weapons multiplied, perhaps because people feared a ban, or felt that buying a more powerful weapon would allow them to better defend their families.
There is one more thing to take into consideration. In a country with large rural areas, a weapon is perceived as something that is more than necessary for self-defense or hunting. Added to this is the arms industry, which, through the almighty National Rifle Association, has a million-dollar lobby to dissuade representatives from changing the status quo.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 77 percent of U.S. citizens believe that Congress, with a Republican majority, is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, while 62 percent said that President Trump has also done nothing.
Something is changing in U.S. society. It is time to listen.
*Editor’s note: The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”