“I’ll control my own guns, thank you.” was the statement the National Rifle Association (NRA) made on Twitter in response to the student walkout this past March in response to the Parkland shooting. They followed up the Tweet with a message by Chris Cox (executive director of the NRA-ILA) which said, “gun control activists are ‘blaming good honest people for the acts of murderers’” (Willingham, CNN). As students have been doing walkouts, making public statements, initiating marches, and attempting to create change for their own safety, the NRA has continually spoke out against the students in efforts to maintain their view of gun laws. Holding on to their strong views of what the Second Amendment looks like, the NRA is giving harsh pushback to students and to individuals who are fighting alongside students for stricter gun laws.
It can be easy to hear about the NRA and have little idea for what they stand for, outside of what the media portrays. Some people see them as heroes while others see them as villains. However, it is essential to ask: What is their goal? According to their website, their mission statement is, “The heart of The NRA Foundation’s mission is preserving the core of our American values and traditions in our steadfast effort to Teach Freedom” (NRA). Ultimately, their form of “teaching freedom” is through “defending and fostering the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans” (NRA). Their solution to the gun violence happening in schools is not stricter gun laws or raising the minimum age for purchasing a gun to 21 years old (Berman & Weigel, The Washington Post). Instead, their solution is more guns. They claim that student safety comes through the presence of SROs and the allowance for teachers to carry guns on school property (Willingham, CNN). The way they are executing their mission statement, “teaching freedom,” is through allowing 18-year-old individuals to own guns, having armed officers and teachers on school grounds, and not listening to the students who are in the schools. While the NRA is making decisions about what freedom looks like for students, they are not giving students the freedom to say what will make them feel the safest.
While some believe that the Parkland survivors and the students rising up are just naïve kids, it is arguable that perhaps these students will be a strong force that the NRA will have to face (Blake, CNN). According to CNN, the Parkland survivors are paying “the price for adult failures… They have to clean up the mess adults leave behind” (Blake, CNN). Because of this, the students are motivated. They are motivated to challenge adult leaders to work together, to overcome differences, and to get something accomplished. Though the NRA has a lot of money to continue to support their mission, the students have passion and time to raise awareness and fight for what they believe is right (Blake, CNN). Through their persistence to be in the public eye and to raise awareness on social media, it is possible that the students can revolt against the NRA in ways that no one expects. Despite the NRA having financial backing and the platform to fight for armed SRO and teachers in schools, the students’ voices must eventually be heard. They cannot be ignored, because the very people that the NRA claims they are fighting for are the ones disagreeing with the NRA’s stance. Is the NRA’s form of “teaching freedom” really giving space for students to experience freedom?
Berman, M. & D. Weigel. NRA goes on the offensive after Parkland shooting, assailing media and calling for more armed school security. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/02/22/after-silence-on-parkland-nra-pushes-back-against-law-enforcement-the-media-and-gun-control-advocates/?utm_term=.66ae9d624e4b
Blake, J. Four reasons the NRA should fear the Parkland student survivors. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/21/us/parkland-shooting-youth-social-change/index.html
The NRA Foundation: Teach Freedom. https://www.nrafoundation.org/about-us/
Willingham, AJ. The NRA’s message for students walking out today: ‘I’ll control my own guns, thank you.’ CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/14/us/nra-tweet-response-stoneman-douglas-shooting-walkout-trnd/index.html
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