At one point in my life I considered buying a handgun.
I was sitting with a Filipino Army colonel on the Pacific island of Boracay. We had become friends, and he told me that a week in advance some «pirates» had caught up with a large sailing boat on the open seas and boarded it. Armed to the teeth – one of the criminals was seen clutching a hand grenade – they emptied the boat of all its valuables. The passengers survived, at least, but on that point he didn’t go into the details. My initial thought was whether I ought to have a gun on-board my boat rather than being left defenceless in a similar situation. But would I have fired at the approaching pirates to protect those whom I love?
Defenceless American pupils and students are again and again victims of school shootings. On February 28, 17 people were killed in Florida. At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland), 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz wrought havoc with a semi-automatic assault rifle (an AR-15). In response, president Trump suggested that school teachers should carry arms, and that those who comply should get a bonus for doing so.
On 24 March about half a million young people took part in the «March For Our Lives» protest march on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. demanding stricter gun laws. Some 800 similar protests were held around the country. Like the spread of the #MeToo movement, the rise of the phenomenon is accompanied by a hashtag: #NeverAgain. American teenagers of today are savvy social media users. They are committed, young and open-minded, their outlook untainted by the cynicism that comes with adulthood. This is the generation that grew up in the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre; a generation that has grown accustomed to conducting lockdown drills in anticipation of future massacres rather than regarding them as rare, freakish events. From the last few years I can list mass shootings at Marshall County High School, Aztek High School, Virgina Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Umpqua Community College, Red Lake, Oikos University, Isla Vista, Northern Illinois University and Santa Monica.
Watch the speech by Emma Gonzales, who rose to prominence for having confronted Trump and the NRA: