One year ago, Nikolas Cruz legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle, walked into his old high school in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people.
After the event, students decided to take on the all-powerful American gun rights lobby: the National Rifle Association. We interview Zoe Grover, the Executive Director of Stop Handgun Violence.
[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film has been removed on June 7.]
The right to bear arms in the USA was an important right when the constitution was written more than 200 years ago. The right to bear arms is a constitutional right. However, like all constitutional rights. it is not an absolute right and there are limits. For example, people with a history of violence are prevented from purchasing firearms. Still we witness mass shootings especially in schools in the US. When asked about the issue, Zoe Grover explains: “Mass shootings in the US are a product of the ease in access to firearms that most states allow. In most states, no background check is required for purchasing firearms from private individuals. In most states, firearms are not required to be kept locked and unloaded when not under the control of the owner. And in many states, individuals with a history of domestic abuse are not prevented from accessing firearms. Domestic mass shootings, shootings that take place between family members, are the most common type of mass shootings in the US.”
The NRA has been extremely powerful in US politics in recent decades but this may be changing. Grover says that the NRA is in bankruptcy proceedings and they are under investigation in New York and DC. “The NRA is at the weakest they have ever been and the gun violence prevention movement is at the strongest they have ever been.” More and more anti-gun protests are helping to raise awareness that there is an urgent need to change gun laws. Grover gives an example: “In Massachusetts we had an extreme risk protection order bill that we expected to be “sent to study” (i.e. fail to pass) in 2018. After the Parkland massacre, students across the Commonwealth marched, protested, made calls to legislators and organized on this issue. With their energy and support, the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill gained the political and social movement to be passed. The more people we can get to take action (call a legislator, write an email, attend an event etc.), the more likely we will be able to get strong gun laws passed.”
Grover herself became involved with the anti-gun movement after she met with the victims of deadly mass shootings and is determined to find ways to prevent these tragedies. “Since I have been with the organization, I have met victims and survivors of gun violence who have experienced incredible tragedy and shown incredible strength. They encourage me to stay in this movement and keep fighting to reduce gun violence, despite the lack of political will by many elected officials.”
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