School kids around the world have to worry about so many things these days. In India, they have to worry about learning accurate and relevant information amid the saffronization of education. Somewhere else, they may have to worry about their school running out of funding, state censorship, or a drone targeting their school.
And now I’m coming across stories of worried parents in the US being comforted by their children, who are telling them, “Don’t worry, we train for this.” Six-year-olds anywhere in the world don’t have to train in warzone techniques. It can’t be ‘freedom’ that makes people less free, in classrooms, places of worship, or supermarkets.
The Second Amendment was ratified in the 1790s. America has just been born, law enforcement was nascent with limited reach, and people needed to protect themselves and theirs. Cut to 230 years later, it’s a society with militarized police forces, innumerable security agencies, and surveillance programs protecting the population.
If one isn’t a ranch owner on a remote land or a business owner in a secluded community, the only reason they’d need a firearm is that their neighbor has one. Bit of a chicken-egg situation. Not to mention, civilians don’t have the training or the temperament to use a firearm when an actual need arises. They’d be hiding as they should.
Owning and carrying military-grade weapons could have been a hobby, like acquiring the latest gadgets or automobiles. But this hobby seems to be routinely killing people, which makes it an odd fetish. There can be no sensible defense for a civilian anywhere to own firearms similar to an AR-15 or an AK-47 unless they’re in a dystopian fantasy.
The gun debate in the US has slipped into potentially dangerous territory, for there’s an insane number of military-grade assault weapons already in circulation. So, if there’s an order tomorrow to surrender these arms or a law restricting access to any degree, there could be a Jan 6 happening outside every state Capitol and local town hall.
In such a scenario, a sustainable change can come only from building awareness at the local community level, where a school kid can ask their parents to give up military-grade weapons. The interest lobbies and their legislators will keep at their job, but communities – personal and others – must start sensitizing the vulnerable population.
Advocacy groups and communities need to stop relying on legislators for solutions and build ground-up programs that may inform people and win their confidence. So long we have minds, there will be mental health issues. And there will be no dearth of lone wolves either, much like private militias. However, there can be fewer assault weapons.
Pride Month is upon us, and this gun debate isn’t very different from the age-old arguments against LGBT+ rights. The arguments of traditional identities and institutions being under threat. Should people be allowed to copulate with animals; where does it stop? It stops where kids won’t have to learn how to pretend to lie dead around a shooter.