America, Home of the Brave

The United States has three poignant images that pertain to its reputation: food, liberty, and now, guns. In the Bill of Rights, there are 10 amendments that Americans cherish more than the 10 commandments; should their Christianity intervene. Among those amendments, is the second one: The Right to Bear Arms. Despite being lauded as one of the most demonstrative fronts of freedom, the downfall of guns is masculinity.

Jason Katz, an educator, author, filmmaker and cultural theorist observed gun violence and delicate masculinity in the United States in his film, “Tough Guise II”. The film covered a variety of issues within the faulty system and the highly regarded second amendment, most importantly, how these issues pertain to “male culture identity”. Although behavioral issues and violence are unisex tendencies, the male identity in the United States has been the forefront of massacres.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 15 people and injured 24 in what is now known as the Columbine High School Massacre. On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and injured 15 in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting. The only difference between these two massacres was the death toll and the year. Although the film does not cover the Stoneman Douglas shooting, the truth of the matter remained: gun violence is the backbone of American culture. Both of these aforementioned shootings/massacres involved male teenagers handling firearms. With a 19 year difference, the country has yet to focus on the topic. Instead of focusing on the teenage lives lost due to gun violence in American schools, the country is, instead, mindlessly worship of the second amendment. The answer to this remains unclear. Is owning a gun more of a “God-given right” than the life of American youth? Or does the National Rifle Association (NRA) covertly control American values with extreme lobbying and propaganda? Although the world sees that gun control is the answer, the United States sees the topic of gun control as a conundrum they’ll never face.

In 1999, my family emigrated to the United States from Bogota, Colombia. My family petitioned for asylum but pertained visas through sheer luck. The reason behind our journey towards a new country was escaping violence, drug wars, and threatening phone calls. Leaving the house was a death wish with bombs being placed under cars, sicarios revving their motorcycle engines and reloading their firearms to kill civilians at a point-blank range. The point of this anecdote is that my family escaped Colombian violence to arrive in a country where violence was not associated with its name. Now, with the rising statistics of school shootings,  walking into school means you’re a dead man walking. The problem with Colombian violence and American violence is that, in Colombia, you are prepared. In Colombia, you walk the streets with caution because that’s how you were raised. You were raised to believe that Colombia is a dangerous country where you must use six senses instead of five. On the other hand, you’re not prepared to become a casualty in American violence. You are told that this is a safe country and you’re trained to believe that. However, you’re never prepared to duck and take cover in your own school.

Although the country itself considers the solution to this pertaining issue a conundrum, the answer is clear. Gun control is necessary for a country that is deemed as perfect and free. As soon as American youth gets murdered due to gun violence, the United States should no longer be considered “free”. A country where a generation is regarded as the “school shooting generation” is not a country that demonstrates liberty and safety. The protection of the NRA and the second amendment over American adolescence is blind dissonance.

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