“Since mankind’s dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We’ve seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse.” – Alan Moore, V For Vendetta.
In Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, the people of Great Britain, are ruled by an insidiously oppressive dictator in a land where people have been blindly enslaved and live like sheep in a pen. The main protagonist, V, who is an activist of sorts and refers to himself as “the boogeyman of the 21st century” manages to get a message across to the whole of the population. The preface of his message is to rally people to help him stand against the oppressive rulers and not to ask for change, but to demand it. Among other things, he argues one of the reasons change is necessary is because “Our masters have not heard the people’s voice for generations and it is much, much louder than they care to remember.”
With the recent talks of student activism and many demanding for change, Alan Moore’s quote represents this younger generation’s feelings towards Congress and how they have handled the gun laws of recent years. Today’s high school and college students have been exposed to the results of gun violence and have begun one of the biggest calls for gun reform, ever. On March 14th, 2018, students all across the nation walked out of school for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students lost in the mass shooting that took place in Florida exactly one month earlier. This act was also a call to Congress to enact stricter gun laws.
Personally, I am all for student activism and an end to gun violence. However, it seems that most students either are greatly misinformed or don’t offer any real solution beyond “tighter gun control”. I heard a student in full seriousness suggest the ban of fully automatic weapons, however fully automatic weapons have been banned for over 30 years, with the passing of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. Another student did not know the difference between semi and fully automatic and actually considered them to be the same thing.
The problem here is that many people are asking for change concerning topics they do not understand, and how can someone solve something they don’t understand? And sure, everybody is entitled to an opinion and has a right to express that opinion; while opinions cannot be wrong, they can be invalid because they are based on false information.
If we as a generation are aiming for change, it makes sense to offer the solution we want, and to adequately do this we need to educate ourselves with facts, not feelings. My generation has very clearly had enough with how the politicians have handled the guns laws up until this current moment, so why would we trust them to change things the way that we want them? If we want to change, we have to do it ourselves, student activism is a good thing, but if we don’t supply the answer to our problem, we won’t get our way.
The way I see it is like this, say you’re taking a math test and all the problems require multiple steps in order to solve, as you’re going through you feel like the test isn’t as hard as you thought, and you feel better because you’re pretty sure you did well. Now, it’s a week later and the teacher is handing back the tests, finally, you get yours back. It’s bad. Surprisingly bad. You got most of the questions wrong and the only note the teacher left is “fix these”. The problem is now, you have no idea how to fix things, you have no clue what you did wrong so how are you going to fix the problems? This, in essence, is what the walkouts achieve, the walk-outs are the “fix this” note from the teacher, and Congress is left wondering how to fix this problem.