The never-ending gun control conundrumKIM PIL-GYU
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
“My mom got me the perfect bag for back to school,” an elementary school student says as he takes out his bag from a locker. Another shows their new binders and smiles, “These colorful binders help me stay organized.” Then a gunshot is heard, children scream and a student runs through the hallway. The frightened child points at his shoes and says, “These new sneakers are just what I need for the new year.”
The video ends as a bathroom door opens and footsteps are heard. “It’s back to school time and you know what that means.” The video is produced by Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization established to prevent school shootings in America.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting 10 years ago, in which 26 children and staff members were killed, surviving families and local Connecticut residents established the group. As their PR strategy is noteworthy, the video released in September 2019 has been viewed by more than 8 million people.
Despite these efforts, school shootings did not stop. At Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, 17 people were killed in the shooting by a former student, and last month, a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School claimed 21 lives.
Polls on gun control are always a mystery. The argument to enhance background checks for gun purchase always gets high support, 80 to 90 percent nationwide. But when Nevada and California put it to a referendum in 2016 to make it a law, the bill was passed narrowly, with only 50 percent and 63 percent support. It is especially surprising as they are Democratic states. The bill was not passed in Maine after only 48 percent voted in favor.
The New York Times analyzed that the voters felt implicit pressure to support gun control but actually are inclined to maintain the status quo. Many people blame the National Rifle Association lobbying efforts, but the will of Americans is not as strong. While the politicians going against public opinion should pay the price in elections, that was not often the case.
With the November midterm election ahead, Washington is once again trying to pass a gun control bill. A vote has been taken in the House, and the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate are in discussion. But the possibility of passing the bill is still unclear. As U.S. Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy stated, “Nowhere else do kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day,” gun control has become a multi-variable equation that is hard to solve.