As a young adult in 2018, I’m appalled by the attitudes and views of older generations.
Their strong viewpoints, used to push their own agendas, without actually understanding the very topics they discuss. There is a stubbornness that halts the progression of our society. Politicians are more concerned with winning votes than bettering their country. Media outlets are more concerned with article views than investigative journalism. Common people are more concerned with religious beliefs and political stances than their fellow human beings.
This issue is common among all countries, but the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida, is a perfect example of this issue. 17 dead. Some were teachers, others were children. I’m not going to share the name of the shooter. That’s not relevant and we shouldn’t publicise and promote the name of someone who has caused so much terror. The only names that should be brought up, are those of heroes. Aaron Feis was a security guard and football coach at the high school. He used his own body to shield students from gunfire, later dying from his wounds. Its names like his that we need to remember, not the killers’.
However this event leads to the greater issue. In 2015 there were 372 mass shootings in the US. 64 of these were school shootings. 13,286 people were killed by guns in the US in 2015. In 2012 gun murders per capita was 30 times the amount in the US than that of the UK. It has been 6 years since 2012, 3 since 2015, yet very little has been done in America to lower these numbers and prevent future tragedies. Rather than a national issue, it becomes a political issue. Many agree that we can’t get rid of guns altogether. Some people despite wanting a change, still want guns around, while others understand that banning guns in the US (or any country for that matter) outright is an almost impossible task.
So the obvious answer is to create stricter gun laws, which involve filling out substantial paperwork, required training practice and regular police/ mental health checks. Yet very little is being done in this department in the US. You can still buy weapons and ammunition from your friendly local Walmart. You can still buy assault rifles, because a hand gun just won’t cut it. The shooter bought the AR 15 rifle he used legally, without the need of a special permit or waiting period. A woman close to the Florida shooter warned the FBI a month earlier that he had a growing gun collection and uncontrollable temper. Mass shootings have become such a common occurrence, because it is so easy for someone with intent to gain access to the tools of war they need.
There are some common arguments older generations in the US make. The problem isn’t guns it’s people. After a 1996 shooting in Australia, which left 35 dead, the government launched a massive buyback program, leading to the destruction of 600,000 automatic, semi-automatic and pump action guns. In the years that followed, gun deaths in Australia were virtually cut in half. Japan has a population of 127 million, yet rarely sees more than 10 gun deaths a year. Why? In Japan to obtain a gun you must; attend a day long class, pass a written test, pass a shooting-range test, have your mental health evaluated, agree to a background check, agree to a regular police check of your weapon’s safety within the home, and retake aspects of the course every few years. Other countries understand that putting laws and processes in place, ensure only those qualified should have the right to bear arms.
Many older generation Americans say such changes would breach their second amendment rights. It is part of their history and part of their country. Well sometimes we need to move on, make changes to laws and rights in order to better our country. Let us not forget that slavery and ownership of African immigrants was once legal and common in America. Women weren’t allowed to vote in America until the laws were changed in 1920 either. Those were political issues at the time, and I doubt many of us would make an argument in 2018 that those laws should not have been changed. When and if gun laws change in the US, I believe future generations will look back on the change in the same way that we do those other issues now. You can disregard all this if you want, arguing that you and I have different personal/ political views. You can say that I am too young to understand.
In response to that I say, why are you fighting harder to keep your guns around than your children? An argument can be made for hand guns. The desire to protect your home from invasion is a valid one. An argument can be made for hunting rifles. Hunting is still a part of many cultures that doesn’t necessarily need to be outlawed. However the banning of assault/ automatic weaponry and stricter gun laws is something that all countries need to invest in.
This is a gun issue. It is an arrogance, stubbornness and commercial issue. Whenever a person of colour kills mass amounts of people, it’s a terrorism issue. It’s not. Whenever a white person kills mass amounts of people, it’s a mental health issue. It’s not. Older generations, the United States president himself included, would rather put the blame on video games than organisations like the NRA (National Rifle Association), who strangely enough donated over $30 million to his presidential campaign. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said, “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” when recently speaking at the white house. Older generations will often put the blame on a community or product that they have no interest in or understanding of. The only time New Zealand’s televised news shows discuss video games, is when they are ‘investigating’ new problems with addiction.
Video games are childish and lead to laziness in adults. Video games are causing addiction problems amongst teenagers. Video games are far too violent for children and are adding to gun violence problems. All of these statements are absurd and apply to such a small portion of the people who play video games. No one discusses how a lot of games recommend players take breaks after extended periods of time. No one discusses how many games reward you for completing a level without killing anyone. No one discusses how video games are rated based on their content, yet as an ex-employee at a video game store I had countless parents who attempted to happily purchase restricted 18 games for their children and then grew angry with me when I told them that it was against the law and the content wasn’t meant for them.
Not every video game is about killing and guns. There are many games that have no combat whatsoever. There are games (Gone Home, Journey and Hellblade) that tackle issues related to mental illness, grief and sexuality. They allow those who relate to feel connected and those who can’t to feel empathetic. Not every video game is Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. In the same way that not every movie is Saw or Human Centipede. Video games are an art form and medium for entertainment and storytelling just like books or television. It is disturbing to see older generations who have minimal understanding of what video games even are, push the blame on them so that people’s attention won’t be focussed on removing something that benefits them (e.g. guns).
This is the problem with older generations. They fight intensely to keep things around that benefit them, despite the horrific implications they may have on their fellow man, yet demonise the things that don’t, without any real knowledge of what they are talking about. They are stubborn on so many topics that need to change, because of how it contradicts their personal and religious beliefs, despite the positive greater impact they could have.
Euthanasia is still illegal in New Zealand. No it shouldn’t be available to everyone. We wouldn’t want such a system to be implemented so carelessly. However why should a terminally ill person have to suffer painfully for 6 more months when they are ready and willing to move on now. Why should a senior citizen who has lived a long and fulfilling life and is now about to lose their entire sense of identity because of Alzheimer’s disease, not be able to say goodbye to their families while they still know who they are.
Cannabis has been criminalised and demonised throughout the world, despite being used medically and recreationally for centuries prior. Outrageous amounts are spent globally each year, on imprisoning and prosecuting sellers and recreational users of a product that has proven to be less harmful than alcohol and beneficial to easing chronic pain.
People are willing to risk the lives of others, because it would affect their personal rights (which breaks down to, it would be slightly more inconvenient for me to do what I want). People are willing to tell others that you can’t have an abortion or be euthanized, which has nothing to do with them. Yet it would be insane if it was illegal to get a certain haircut, because someone you don’t even know doesn’t want you to have it. It breaks down to the same thing, obstructing another individual’s right to do what they want with their body. Older generations are happy to let mass shootings in schools continue, invade other countries because they disagree with how they are running things, or stop rape victims from receiving abortions. As long as it doesn’t affect their rights, their beliefs, their interests.
This stubbornness, naivety and lack of empathy from previous generations needs to change. Seeing the waning interest from the public, the lack of conviction from politicians and an overall unwillingness to change that can only be described as lazy, the youth of America is rising up. Publicly showing their disdain at the president’s lack of action, organising nationwide walkouts at schools and colleges on the 24th of March. Younger generations in America have realised that due to the outdated views and commercial interests of their government, communities and elders, they must protect themselves. Make their country better and safer on their own. As young people, no matter what country we hail from, we must ignore the childish notions that we know nothing due to our age, and fight for our future, because no one else will.
US gun violence statistics:
Australia/ Japan gun violence statistics: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/gun-deaths-eliminated-america-learn-japan-australia-uk-norway-florida-shooting-latest-news-a8216301.html
Politicians blame video games: https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/16/17020768/video-games-violence-shootings-kentucky-governor-matt-bevin