En 18-årig købte automatvåben på sin fødselsdag og skød derefter 19 børn og to lærere
As long as Americans love their guns more than they love their children, we will see school shootings. Again and again and again.
An 18-year-old bought an automatic weapon on his birthday and then shot 19 children and two teachers
“It is with a heavy heart that I receive the news of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.”
The email from the school superintendent at my daughter’s school begins with these words. I did see the email ticking in a few hours ago. “Uvalde, Texas School Shooting,” the subject line read.
But I did not open the email. Could not, had to wait a few hours before I was able to read. Eventually, I couldn’t put it off any longer. What if the email said something I needed to know – for the sake of my own children?
Shortly after our family arrived in the United States, a school shooting that is now known as the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, took place at a school for students from 0.-5. grade. 20 children and 6 adults were mowed down by a man with an automatic weapon. The school’s internal system had quickly announced that there was an “active shooter”at the school, and the teachers followed the safety protocols that they and the children had regularly practiced, and hid in closets, barricaded doors to classrooms, and stayed away from windows and doors. They did everything they could. And still, they were hit by tragegy.
I especially remember the Sandy Hook school shooting more clearly than others. Partly because it caused very young children their lives, partly because that day changed something fundamental in me that had to do with grief and anger over what defines how Americans relate to principles and common sense.
Today, I again find myself in a state of shock. I am overwhelmed with grief. It’s something different to experience the news when you live here in the United States and have children who go to a similar school and watching the TV screen show the pictures over and over again than it is to sit on the other side of the globe in Europe and read about an incomprehensible American system that makes such tragedies possible.
I thought for a long time that I had such a hard time understanding the relationship to weapons here in the US because I was Danish. But many Americans share my disgust for a hardcore, antiquated cowboy approach to what is here known as “the Second Amendment,” which is about Americans’ right to bear arms. The fanatical religious approach to the wording of the constitution is nauseating – and puts politicians backed by the arms lobbies and arms manufacturers higher than the lives of children and citizens.
“If you think that tragedies like the one that Americans go through every single week cause Americans to buy fewer weapons, you are wrong. Every time a shooting finds its way to the media and people are afraid that there will be regulations in the right to bear arms, there is a queue in front of the arms shops.
And what happens now? Absolutely nothing, of course. Joe Biden has condemned the atrocity, asked the Americans when enough is enough. But he has no real power to do anything. Texas’ governor and prominent Texas politicians such as Ted Cruise are repeating the old phrases about the right of the individual and that it is not the way forward to ban the carrying and buying of weapons. Perhaps Ted Cruise is signaling to the nation’s largest arms lobby, the NRA (National Rifle Association), that everything will continue as planned when they gather for a conference this coming weekend – in Texas.
The man who completed his insane shooting yesterday was 18 years old. As a birthday present, he gave himself various weapons, including an automatic weapon and ammunition. But the mass shooting yesterday is far from the only one that has taken place in the United States this year. In this country, we do not hear about all the mass shootings that take place. If that was the case, the media would spend all their air time reporting on than that. Only a few mass shootings break through to the media, but this year alone, not even halfway into 2022, more than 200 mass shootings have taken place in America.
However, when school shootings involve young children the media reports on it. It’s the same process every time: News hosts with deep sympathizing voices interviewing crying relatives, audio recordings where we hear screams and shooting, pictures of children running scared from buildings, according to the drills they have trained for, and politicians saying they are praying for the victims and their families. Republicans who do not want to change the law and introduce stricter gun control. Democrats who highlight the bloody and morbid relationship by the United States to legislation that gives Americans the right to bear arms in a country that has more weapons than residents.
And meanwhile, in my children’s schools, drills are being carried out every month. Drills that teach them what to do in the event of an earthquake or how to react if there is a bear in the area. I’m fine with those drills. But on the same day as the school shooting in Texas took place, my daughter had an “active threat drill” which is about how students should behave if there is a school shooting at their school. I have not yet learned to relate to these drills in a levelheaded way.
And if you think that tragedies like the one that Americans go through every single week cause Americans to buy fewer weapons, you’re wrong. Every time a shooting finds its way to the media and people are afraid that there will be regulations in the right to bear arms, there is a queue in front of the arms shops. Sales are rising, more deadly weapons are finding their way into American hands.
And what do you do after reading the email from the school superintendent? You talk to your children. If they want to. Because when I gently told my daughter that there might be some at her school who would mention a school shooting, she let me know with her short “okay” that she did not want to talk about it. I check again, prompting another way to engage. “Okay,” she says again with the same dismissive tone. And that’s a human way of reacting, too. By closing off. Because this is her everyday life. She must always be on alert, navigating a reality where she knows a school shooting could at any time happen. I understand her way of shutting this fact out of her life. She is powerless, has no say when it comes to the adults’ mindlessly incomprehensible priorities. Because as long as Americans value their right to bear arms more than the safety of their children, school shootings will take place – over and over and over again.