Flail at hand

OPINION






The shooting in Texas that killed 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Uvalde seems to have shaken America and the rest of the world. To think of a teenager – an 18-year-old boy – with a gun running amok through a school shooting everyone in his line of sight is too gruesome, to say the least. But as incredible as it may seem, it happens in America (in the United States). And it happened over decades, if not centuries (the first such school shooting in America was in 1764 at Pontiac’s Rebellion School in present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania). Surprisingly however, in most cases boys – even girls, but in fewer cases – as young as 14 or even 12 years old have been implicated in shootings at other students or teachers in their schools.

Why, unlike elsewhere in the world, is it so common in America? It’s not hard to see why. Because guns are not as readily available in any other developed country as they are in America. The type of guns Americans can buy are not just small defensive guns. They can also buy offensive automatic firearms. The teenage shooter from Uvalde, Texas, Salvador Ramos, had, for example, two AR-15 type semi-automatic rifles. And one of those he would have bought after his birthday.

Boys and girls in adolescence commonly suffer from behavioral disorders, including anxiety and mood disorders. This is also the period (between 15 and 24 years) of a person’s growth when they are most suicidal. And past cases show that the offending teenagers committed suicide after the shooting. Incidents ranged from revenge against a girl who rejected a boy’s romantic overture to a student being punished or turned down by a teacher to a girl or boy who believed he had been the victim of gross injustice. And if these angry youths used a stick, a piece of stone, or even a knife, the possible harm could have been lesser and lesser. But when it comes to a firearm that can kill instantaneously from a distance, things are beyond the control of victims or others at the scene of the event. American teenagers had always had firearms, including automatic weapons, at their fingertips. It’s no wonder the May 14 mass shooting at the Buffalo grocery store in New York that claimed the lives of 10 black people was also perpetrated by another 18-year-old, Payton Gendron, who clearly carried a hatred racist against black people. However, he broadcast his terrorist act live via a popular video service. Ramos, the Texas school shooter, was also active on social media platforms frequented by teenagers. He was well known on Yubo, one such platform, as a violent and misogynistic bully who threatened many girls with kidnapping or rape and, often, shooting at an elementary school. And he finally kept his word. But why those running the affected social media platforms could not warn the local administration against the violent intent of these furious young (media platform) users is a mystery.

Modern social media platforms have proven to be a convenient cover for these angry teenagers to hide under and voice their extreme views anonymously. If there had been a strict law to control the ability of citizens to own and use firearms, there would not have been so many examples of senseless shootings, at least in American schools.

In the age of the Internet and social media, America is not a distant land. While school shootings aren’t an issue here, teenage violence is. And, while they can’t legally buy guns on the open market like in America, they can get them on the black market. And they are drawn into the underworld of drugs and crime. Strong measures are needed to stop the degeneration.

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