There is a song by popular American band Foster the People, whose lyrics go like this;
“All the other kids with the pumped-up kicks you better run, better run, outrun my gun!”
While the music is upbeat and happy, when one closely pays attention to the lyrics, we discover one of the darkest stories of the modern-day – those of gun violence in schools.
For years there has been a robust ongoing debate in the States about gun control and its pros and cons. The second amendment of the United States of America’s constitution gives the average American adult the right to hold firearms and weaponry of the sort. While this has lead to unimaginable violence on the streets and schools of America (as well as countless depictions of the violence in Hollywood movies), a strong lobby stands in the way of making guns illegal in the country.
According to a 2018 study conducted by Mother Jones, the annual cost of gun violence in America exceeds a whopping sum of $229 billion, a significant portion of which is the expenditure in the incarceration of the criminals associated with gun violence. According to the study, “Victims of gun violence must deal with lost wages, new medical bills and often the cost of a new lifestyle.”
Further, over the course of the 2010s, 7,50,000 individuals were injured due to gunshots and 3,20,000 people were killed.
Despite this, there seems no end in sight for violence due to possession and use of arms. While the American population, on the one hand, stands to be woke enough to push for the legalization of medicinal marijuana, on the other hand, it is still stubborn and bent on possession of guns for so-called “self-defense”.
There also stands the issue of gun violence in schools. As the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People explores, school massacres have become part of the American tradition; one which has become a meme as well, with students advising each other to not attend school on the first day, and – in the more recent times of the pandemic – to not visit the Zoom meeting.
As darkly hilarious as it may seem, school massacres like those of Columbine and the December 2012 school shooting which left 20 school children victim to gun violence are no laughing matter and they are a pressing concern.
According to another study by the Journal of Black Studies, “Gun violence in African American communities has left an indelible mark on the quality and quantity of life among the youngest members as well.” Statistics released by federal law enforcement officials reveal that, collectively, more children of color die each year from gun violence.
As Tupac Shakur says in his song ‘Only God Can Judge Me, “They say that it’s the white man I should fear, but it is my own kind doing all the killing here.”, black-on-black violence on the streets of America is not only common but has become a pop-culture phenomenon as well due to exceedingly violent rap lyrics and portrayal of gang-culture in the media.
According to Small Arms Survey, it is estimated that Americans on 393 million firearms, which is enough to fill countless football fields.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Due to this amendment of the constitution a significant proportion of the US population – particularly the more conservative circles – forms a strong lobby in the defense of gun ownership. Similar to how the booze lobby in India is very strong, the gun rights lobby in America seems to put no end in sight for easy access to guns and the violence that unfolds because of it.
While Joe Biden has announced an ‘End to Prayers’ with his new gun control policy, we can only hope that it leads to less pain and suffering in the country. For the time being, we can only dream that Gun Violence becomes obsolete in America.