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    Participants in the March for Our Lives rally in Washignton requiring tightened control over the sales of fire weapons

    Is March For Our Lives the Solution to America's Sickening Gun Violence?

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    John Wight
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    March For Our Lives, the mass day of action that has taken place across the US against the nation's lax gun laws, organized by the mass movement of the same name, has succeeded in throwing a political hand grenade into the heart of an issue that perhaps divides US society more than any other in our time.

    The grassroots movement's main rally in Washington was joined by hundreds of such rallies across the country, demanding meaningful action from lawmakers and politicians whom the organizers claim have, for far too long, been in the thrall of a gun lobby whose influence and power is quite literally killing children.

    In the wake of the Parkland, Florida massacre — the latest mass school shooting to occur in a country where such shootings had become part of life in the US — this movement, spearheaded by students and young people, has emerged to challenge one of the holy cows of the US Constitution, the Second Amendment, in a way it has never been challenged before.

    From the March For Our Lives website: "Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives."

    There is no doubt the numbers are damning. According to figures compiled by the Washington Post, more than 187,000 children in the United States have been exposed to gun violence since the Columbine school massacre in 1999.

    However the issue of gun violence in America's is not merely its lax gun laws, underpinned by a Second Amendment to the Constitution that was ratified in 1791, centuries before assault and automatic weapons were even dreamt of much less invented. The issue instead is the gun culture responsible for the nation's gun laws, and their stalwart defesce by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

    As US author and commentator Chris Hedges writes: "Vigilantes and lone avengers are the popular heroes in American culture. They are celebrated on television and in Hollywood movies. Audiences, especially as they feel economic and political power slipping from their hands, yearn for the violent authority embodied in rogue cops in films such as Dirty Harry or in unrepentant killers such as [the actor] Bradley Cooper in American Sniper."

    American culture is steeped in the ethos of the winner, the muscular over-achiever who rises to the top by dint of a mammoth capacity for studying, work and risk taking. Words such as compassion, empathy, co-operation, kindness, and consideration are the words of weak people and by extension a weak nation. In America you don't get what you deserve you get what you take. And in order to take you have to be more ruthless, competitive, dedicated, committed, and smarter than the other guy.

    The rewards for success are limitless, while the penalty for failure is severe. This after all is a nation in which over 40 million people live in poverty and where the level of inequality between rich and poor is greater than it was during the days of the Roman Empire.

    Gun violence, whether committed in the name of law enforcement, by street gangs, or in the context of random mass school shootings, such as Parkland, is a symptom of cultural and social malaise in a country and society that has never known social cohesion, one that remains permanently polarized around questions of race, religion, and the myriad social issues arising therefrom.

    Indeed, at time of writing, the only thing that unites Americans is fear of each other at home and ‘the other' abroad. It is this irrational yet pervasive fear that feeds the paranoia that is the soil out of which this pernicious gun culture, one that has and continues to kill far more Americans than acts of terrorism, grows.

    Blocking progress on the issue is, as mentioned, the NRA, an organization whose financial and political clout was felt during the 2016 presidential election with its endorsement and funding of the Trump campaign to the tune of over $30 million. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA also donated tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of many Republican members of Congress, thus buying their support and, with it, meaningful action on reform of gun laws in support of a constitutional amendment drafted in the late 18th century.

    Clearly, the presence of such financial clout in any democracy is corrosive and corrupting. It is why the truism that young people are the hope for the future is, when it comes to the gun laws in the land of the free, assumes an importance that tantamount to life or death.

    In fact, due to the contemptible cowardice of their own government and politicians in facing down the NRA, the young people spearheading March For Our Lives are not only America's hope for the future, they are the country's only hope for the present.

    The views and opinions expressed by John Wight are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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