A new generation is rising up in the United States and they may be considered school kids at the movement, but many will have the vote when the next elections come around in 2020 - look out President Trump.
American residents in Majorca, private chef and all-round Californian action man Jeff Harter and international PR and communications expert Jennifer Wasmer, who spends half her time on the island and the other in Florida, have been deeply shocked and upset by the latest school shooting in the United States - the Valentine’s Day massacre when 17 people were killed and another 14 were wounded when a 19-year-old went on the rampage with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida.
Jeff, originally from Boulder in Colorado, was living just 30 minutes away from the infamous Columbine High School massacre in 1999 which claimed the lives of twelve students and a teacher. Both he and Jennifer were close to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which occurred on 14 December 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old.
"Most families in the United States have been affected by gun violence," said Jennifer. Both she and Jeff have had family members and friends shot and wounded or even killed and it is not just in schools, although this latest incident appears to have touched a nerve which is having repercussions around the world, never mind up and down the United States.
"In the past, obviously I’ve been shocked and stunned by school shooting but when I saw the images and reports on the TV about this latest incident, I just started crying, I couldn’t help myself," said Jeff, who has fired a gun but never owned one and has never felt the urge to buy one. "It’s a very tense issue in the States. My wife has lost contact with her best friends. He is a police officer and he and his wife go to bed with a pistol each on their nightstands. The problem is you can’t talk to people; it (guns), with the help of Trump, has divided the States."
But the writing could be on the wall although the The National Rifle Association of America (NRA), a huge and powerful supporter of the Republican Party, is doing its best to fudge the issue as much as possible.
Jeff and his wife Cheryl are no strangers to activism. He raised over 50,000 euros to help fight cancer and Cheryl dedicates much of her time to helping the Amics de los Animales animal shelter in Esporles. But now, Jeff feels the need to take part in this new movement which has been started by the school friends of those who were gunned down in Florida last month.
"I think it’s about time Americans got back out on the streets again. I remember when I was at university, the students were always protesting, a lot was wrong with the States back then and people were not scared of saying so. But then came the '80s and '90s and I guess life became a lot more comfortable and convenient. Life seemed sweet and things just ticked over and we just sat around enjoying life. Now, however, these kids in the States have decided to take on, stand up to the system, challenge Trump in a way no other politician is and they need the support of everyone around the world.
"Gun violence is not unique to the United States and what we don’t want is it spreading. We are all parents, we all have children and we don’t want them to be scared to go to school. We don’t want them walking on to campus not knowing if they are going to get home alive. How can kids in the States seriously think about their careers and the long-term future when they could get shot dead the following day at school? These are the questions. This is the reality. It’s not about arming teachers, escalating and encouraging the carrying of even more arms, it’s about reducing the use of weapons.
"That said, in Texas, concealed weapons are already allowed on university campus, so in a way it’s already started. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms, was adopted on 15 December 1791. Don’t you think it’s time that was kind of reformed or revised? It was introduced to protect America and Americans from foreign invasion and the Wild West, I think we’ve developed as a nation since then to be honest.
"The trouble is that since 9/11, Americans have become scared, they are frightened. The NRA and to a lesser extent the Bush and now the Trump governments have made a play on that. The biggest problem is that there is too much money in politics in the United States and what Trump has also done very well is divide the country. You can not talk to or reason with Trump supporters, it’s split the country, communities and even friends and family.
"So, I was surfing the web and looking at what the kids from the Florida school are doing and I thought we should try and get together and take part in the March for our Lives on 24 March. Over 800 events are going to be taking place all around the world and I hope we can get something moving here in Majorca. A lot of my Majorcan friends are already on board, so I hope we can get a good number of people out on the march from La Llonja.
"And we must not forget that it is not only school kids being gunned down, it’s adults too. I remember when I was at San Diego State University, 20 people were shot and killed at the nearby McDonalds and a few months later I met a girl at a fraternity party who had been shot through the leg. Like I said, few people have escaped being affected by gun violence in the States and now is the time to stand up and be heard.
"Trump has said that he would look at gun controls and last week met members of the NRA. But they are a very strong lobby group and we don’t know what came out of that meeting."
Jennifer, an expert in dialogue and leadership feels that the debate is more than just about Trump. "The big problem in the States today is that people don’t talk to each other and if or when they do, they don’t listen. The only way we are going to begin to address the issue of gun control and all the other problems the States is having to deal with is by opening up dialogue. Unlike the UK, there is no clear leader of an opposition party who takes the President to task twice a week.
"We’ve got tweeting Trump for the next three years, although of late the Democrats have picked up important victories in once staunch Republican areas. I honestly think people are starting to see Trump for what he is and that the vast majority of his promises were false. I’m not saying everything is wrong in the US, it’s a great country, it’s just being badly managed right now and I think the mid-term elections in November will be the litmus test. This is when we’ll get the first clear idea of what Americans now think of Trump going forward.
"But that said, we, the voters, can’t do anything about it until the presidential elections. There are guys like Conor Lamb who are challenging Trump and questioning him but we need more. I come and go, I live between here and Florida so I do get to see what’s happening on the ground and the media are really giving Trump a tough time. I don’t think there’s been so much good investigative journalism going on since the Nixon era. In the meantime, we’ve got to support these kids because they will decide the future they want to live in. Just because we don’t live in the States, it doesn’t mean we don’t love the United States."
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