I’ve been thinking about school shootings all week. Watching to see if the tipping point has come for American politicians to separate from the powerful gun lobby and put the lives of their kids above the NRA.
There is a tiny bit of movement but no real shift. Instead we have seen another Trumpian style approach to negotiation – load the scales with other bad stuff and then offer to ditch that in exchange for the original issue.
He did it with the Dreamers recently. No “Clean Dream Act” for the Republican Party under the guidance of their Fuhrer, I mean leader.
The original proposal was a trade-off between legalization/resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and border wall/security money.
Trump then slipped in Family reunification (aka Chain Migration), and the Green Card (Diversity Visa) Lottery to complicate the deal and started talking about Merit based immigration. And turned down all the deals that come to his office – even bipartisan ones.
The Dreamers are living in terror and uncertainty while the politicians quibble. Nobody really knows what the President wants. A similar scenario is emerging with regards to gun control or school safety.
Bravery of the Students of Stoneman Douglas High School
Anyone who has access to electronic media has seen the bravery and determination of the students and survivors of the school shooting that claimed 17 lives in Parkland, Florida, at the Stoneman Douglas High School last week. Overnight the teenagers became activists and coined the hashtag #NeverAgain . They are planning a “March for Our Lives”, a nationwide demonstration which will include a march in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2018.
The attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is the sixth school shooting incident this year so far that has either wounded or killed students.
The group of Stoneman Douglas High School teens has demanded legislative action to prevent similar shootings in the future and has vocally condemned U.S. lawmakers who have received political contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA). They have spoken on a variety of issues; background checks, mental illness, assault weapon bans and a range of gun and safety related issues that they believe should be changed in order to prevent mass shootings, especially at schools.
Mass Shootings in the USA
The Washington Post explains that this very American phenomenon began in August 1966 when a student sniper fired down on passer-by from the observation deck of a clock tower at the University of Texas. By the time police killed him, 17 other people were dead or dying. Look at the interactive graphic of Mass Shootings, the shooters, the victims, the death tolls and the guns.
USA’s Obsession with Guns
For us in the rest of the world, this obsession that the USA has with guns is unimaginable. Americans live in an affluent, safe and democratic society. Why are the citizens so afraid that they feel they need to defend themselves with firearms? A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health also found there was a strong relationship between higher levels of gun ownership in a state and higher firearm suicide rates for both men and women.
See America’s gun culture in 10 charts from the BBC News
President Trump’s Listening Session
So anyway, President Trump held a listening session for parents and survivors of last week’s Florida school shooting at the White House. Also gathered were some families of the 20 first graders who were gunned down alongside six of their teachers and school staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
President Donald Trump began with a pledge to be “very strong on background checks” and to put an emphasis on “the mental health of somebody.”
….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defence alone won’t work!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
Arming Teachers – Trump’s Solution to Increase School Safety
Then Trump suggested that he would consider arming teachers (concealed carry) as a measure against school shootings. “It only works when you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. It would be teachers and coaches.”
“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” he said, stating that schools could arm up to 20% of their teachers to stop “maniacs” who may try and attack them, he said.
Trump on Thursday morning tweeted he “never said ‘give teachers guns'” and then repeated his quote from Wednesday about looking into the possibility of “giving concealed guns to adept teachers with military or special training.”
While it is unclear who would pay for this or whether it would actually do any good, many educators were adamant that they’d rather quit their jobs than carry guns in the classrooms.
Trump’s Negotiation Tactics
So now I’m wondering, has Donald Trump put this very controversial idea about gun-toting teachers into the conversation so that it can be a counter balance in negotiations about what gun legislation will be changed or not? We know from experience that these kinds of topics suck all the oxygen out of negotiations because they take up so much time and emotion that the easy deals don’t ever get done.
The US President muddied the waters of the Dreamer deal by adding tricky immigration issues to the mix and we’ve seen how that has gone nowhere.
Oh and just a week after the shooting, while people are burying their children, President Trump backed the NRA saying. ‘They love our Country and will do the right thing,’