Would you believe that there are more licensed gun stores in the U.S. than there are Starbucks in the entire world?
That's insane isn't it? What are we so afraid of? That proliferation clearly means that the solution to mass shootings here isn't increased penalties or criminalizing mental illness. The solution is gun control and an assault weapons ban.
Monday was Presidents day. To celebrate it one weapons supplier offered a controversial sale on bump stocks, the device used by the Las Vegas shooter to make his guns fire faster, killing 59 people and wounding almost 500.
The bump stock was being sold at 10% off when you applied the coupon code: MAGA, or Make America Great Again, Donald Trump's campaign slogan, most famously seen on his made-in-China red hats.
Bump stocks make semi-automatic rifles fire faster, which means they can kill more effectively, and remember that doctors have said to get hit with just one shot from an AR-15 is the equivalent of a grenade going off inside you.
Meanwhile, Slide Fire, the bump stock manufacturer behind the 10% MAGA discount offer, is based in Moran, Texas, where it once employed about a tenth of the town’s entire population, and where it still is one of the area’s largest employers. The connection between guns, profit and political endorsement has rarely been so explicit.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, where a 20-year-old fatally shot 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old, as well as 6 adult staff members, many people despaired when their calls for gun control and a ban on certain kinds of semi-automatic firearms broke down along political lines, with nearby states enacting restrictions (or easing them) in an all too predictable game of political calculus.
What few people seem to want to talk about is how often now these so-called “lone shooters” turn out to be linked to a highly organized white nationalist grievance culture animated by racism, alienation, misogyny and the radicalization offered by supremacist groups.
The Parkland school shooter was pictured making target practice in a MAGA hat, a detail that was not lost on the students who had cowered in fear for their lives on the day he attacked. Nor was the sight of Trump callously using the shootings to tweet about his anger over the ongoing Russia investigations.
What was different this time was that the targeted students, although still traumatized by the terror they experienced, were refusing to be silenced by the calls from their elders.
Instead they are going after the politicians who take massive donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and also Trump himself, for one of his first moves in office was to scrap a regulation that prevented people with a documented mental illness from buying guns.
The Parkland students have announced there will be school strikes. There will be targeted protests and their will be a march on Washington on March 24.
These kids are articulate, passionate and unfortunately they are already experienced. Their non-partisan demand for an effective bill to be brought before Congress to address the out of control gun issues we face now insists on a timely passage of comprehensive legislation to address the gun violence that is rampant in the country.
Once again they will soon find themselves targeted by overwhelming fire power, this time from conservatives and the bank rollers in the billion dollar gun lobby. Bring it on say the kids who have already faced the worst that can be thrown at them.
“Our community and nation have taken too many bullets to the heart, and now is the time for us to stand up,” said David Hogg, a Parkland senior. “I will not feel safe going back to school myself until reasonable mental health care legislation and gun control legislation is passed.”
Petitions, nationwide walkouts, congressional visits and a march on Washington are telling us to wake up. Our own kids are acting more responsibly than the adults who have voted to endanger their lives.
That's where we are now. If America is actually to be made great again, it looks like it will be thanks to the moral principles of teenagers, not adults.