As expected, another school massacre has happened in the US. This time it was in the gun-fetish capital of the US, the state of Texas. The perpetrator was a 17-year-old student at the school who was armed with a shotgun and a pistol. The weapons belonged to the perpetrator’s father, who owned them legally. The shooting left nine students and a teacher dead and ten others injured1.
The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, stated the obvious when he said that this shooting was “one of the most heinous attacks that we’ve ever seen in the history of Texas schools” and noted that indications that the perpetrator intended to commit such a crime were “non-existent or very imperceptible”1. After the perpetrator had been apprehended, Abbott stated bizarrely that the teenager “gave himself up” because “he didn’t have the courage to commit suicide”2.
In the US this year, more students have been killed in school than have been killed in US military service. This will continue to be the case unless the US enters another war, which given President Trump’s propensity for spitting the dummy, is probably more likely than it was over a year and a half ago. Surprising as it may seem, the only real advance in gun control has been Trump’s move to ban the ‘bump-stock’, which is a device for effectively turning semi-automatic assault rifles into machineguns3. This device was used by the Las Vegas shooter to modify all his semi-automatic rifles2. Other suggested measures are just pissing in the wind or simply risk creating further problems (more security personnel with guns; installing metal-detectors; arming teachers).
Symptomatic of the problem in the US is a tweet from Senator Ted Cruz: “Heidi and I are keeping all the students and faculty at Santa Fe High School in our prayers this morning, along with all first responders on the scene. Please be safe and heed warnings from local officials”. The sending of thoughts and prayers by politicians is simply a way for them to feel good about themselves without actually doing anything. This was pointed out to Cruz in some replies, with perhaps the most pointed being “Let me re-word that for you Ted. Heidi and I are going to give you our empty words in the form of prayers because I couldn’t care less about this as taking money from the NRA is my god”4.
The reply to Cruz’s idiotic tweet is unsurprising given that for the 2016 US elections, the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent a record $54 million to secure Republican control of the White House and Congress. While direct donations to some politicians are not particularly large, spending on advertising in support is often much larger. For Instance, Cruz received only $11,900 directly from the NRA, but they spent another $65,000 in supporting him during the 2012 Senate election. Senator Marco Rubio only received $4,950 from the NRA, but they spent over $1 million supporting him in his senate election campaign in 2016. Senator Rob Portman received $29,455 directly from the NRA, but they spent over $731,000 supporting his re-election5. If you expect people like this, with such massive conflicts of interest, to do anything about school shootings in the US, you probably believe in fairies. The lives and futures of children do not matter when campaign funding is at stake, so the school shootings will continue, and NRA donations to politicians will continue to make sure they do. The only way to remedy this situation is the prevent corporate donations to politicians and corporate advertising in support of them. Until that happens, children will continue to be murdered.