Professor Joe Goldblatt
How many times did I drive by the school where three children were murdered this week? During my three years of living in Nashville, Tennessee I often drove by this school and admired the well – kept grounds and beautiful buildings. I also enjoyed seeing the children playing carefree in the playground. Never once did I imagine the horror that unfolded this week.
We live in an age where we sadly must rise each day and expect the unusual. We must no longer look for the normality of a safe and secure society, rather, we must accept that for us and our bairns, it is sadly now back to the abnormal and abhorrent.
However, we still have a choice. When the Dunblane school massacre occurred in Scotland strict gun laws were created and as a result the number of school shootings in the United Kingdom has been zero for 27 years. The UK took swift action, as was our moral imperative, to protect and safeguard our children.
By contrast, during the past 27 years there have been 379 school shooting incidents impacting 300,000 pupils in the USA. Whilst African – American students comprise only 16% of the total number of students, shockingly over 33% of victims in the US schools are black children. The average school shooter (yes this horrific phrase has now become common in the USA) is 16 years of age and a white male.
When the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms, was ratified in 1791, no one really knows what the founders of this young nation were thinking and that is why we have the courts to interpret this document. However, I do believe that the founders of this new nation when guaranteeing this right did not envision that one day their future we bairns would become future victims of gun violence.
I sometimes imagine that the word bear in the second amendment should be interpreted as bare , meaning that if we roll up our sleeves and bare our arms to work together for justice, safety and peace, we may have fewer tragedies from gun violence. Here is one way this may be accomplished by average citizens.
I also wonder about what the parents of today’s school pupils in the USA must be thinking when they drop their children at the school gate and head off to work? I know that when I was a young parent I would have considered more than once home schooling as a safe alternative rather than subjecting my children to this type of pressure, violence, and potential even slaughter.
Perhaps this is one answer to finally bringing the National Rifle Association (the leading USA association for protection of the second amendment) to their knees on the issue of banning all assault rifles. If every parent in the United States (or even a few states) refuse to send their children to school until new gun laws are passed in their states, then their legislators will be forced to act. Perhaps a few steps could start a tsunami to recalibrate the moral compass and create positive change, before it is too late.
Whilst I am proud to live in the United Kingdom where we are one of six countries in the world with the strictest gun laws, I am also concerned that unless we avoid the virus of apathy regarding gun violence being experienced in the USA that we may also be in danger of being infected by this horrible disease that resulted in the death by guns of 45,000 people in 2020.
Recently I attended an excellent family fun day at Victoria Quay where emergency workers displayed their equipment. I watched with interest as hundreds of young children climbed aboard fire trucks, pushed the button to sound the siren in a police car, and to my dismay, stood behind machine guns imagining they were shooting human beings. I realise that this behaviour is perhaps encouraged by popular media where the most successful films are those that rely upon violence to sell tickets. However, regardless of the motivation, it is the responsibility of our generation to insure that this motivation does not lead to the elimination of others because our children believe these are normal, natural, and there are no consequences for their behaviour.
During my three years in Nashville I was invited one evening to a wild game dinner. The hunters who were my hosts proudly presented their prey to us upon large platters and discussed with much satisfaction their moment of killing the beast we would soon ingest. During this time, the assault weapon was not considered a necessary or desired tool to insure a successful hunt had occurred. However, as I said earlier, it is now back to abnormal and we must expect every day to be unusual due to the proliferation of these rapid fire killing tools.
Therefore, I hope that parents in the USA will vote with their feet and refuse to send their children to school buildings until legislators are forced to either close the schools or ban the weapons that have caused so much heartache for tens of thousands of families for the past thirty years. Further, I hope that those of us in one of the countries with the strictest gun laws will keep one eye firmly focused to the west to be certain that their immoral behaviour that has consumed the land of my birth never reaches our shores.
The next time you walk or drive by a school building in Scotland, please join me in remembering the hundreds of school shootings in America and how in the blink of an eye it could happen at any one of our local schools. That is why with one eye focused upon the advancing army of arrogant legislators in the USA I shall keep my other eye focused upon my own leaders and remember that all of us are guardians of our children and we must do whatever we can to protect them.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University. His views are his own. For more information about his views visit www.joegoldblatt.scot