'if anything happens, I love you': a call to action
On November 20th, 2020 William McCormack’s 12-minute short film debuted on Netflix. The film immediately received top ratings, in fact, as of November 23rd the film was Top 4 in Italy and Top 10 worldwide. The storyline is based on two grieving parents mourning the loss of their daughter following a tragic school shooting. However, the fascinating aspect of this film is its ability to erupt such emotion from the viewers through unspoken words, music, and a simple cartoon depiction.
Gun control in the U.S.
Gun control is perhaps one of the most controversial political and social issues in the United States, with deaths due to firearms and personal firearm ownership being exponentially higher than any other nation worldwide. Typically, pro-gun debaters aim to legitimize the uncontrolled American firearm market via the self-defense argument despite having been the case in 0.9% of crimes between 2007 to 2011³. Better yet is the utilization of the ‘Second Amendment’ argument, while ignoring the fact that it was written with intent of ensuring militant power amongst the common people in case of an un-democratic government rising to power. Interestingly enough, Donald Trump’s rejection of election results is considered to be one of the most significant attempts at breaching the freedom of American voters. Rest assured, if a President’s near-authoritarian outburst does not spark the speculated revolution as outlined by the Constitution’s Second Amendment, it’s hard to say what will.
Going back to deaths due to firearms there is, of course, a diversity of causes, primarily suicides followed by homicides. Homicides makeup around 36% of all (intentional) gun-related deaths¹. If one begins to look more closely into school shootings, the situation becomes more grim. One would think that with all the awareness raised in recent years, the tragic testimonials, and the pain that has been endured shootings in schools have decreased over time, but they have only increased. In fact, looking at school shootings per year from 2009 to 2018², it is noticeable that the numbers have almost tripled with 2009 having 13 and 2018 having 28².
It all comes down to governmental accountability. It is no secret that the NRA spends millions on lobbying against any form of regulation. Indeed, the record amount was found to be 3.3 million in 2014⁴ although this figure does not include private dealings or expenditures via PACs. The NRA’s aggressive stance and considerably unlimited financial capacities has undoubtedly led to the failures of various regulatory propositions; they have consistently advocated against any limitation on gun ownership, including background checks. However, the NRA was outspent by pro-regulation groups for the first time in 2018⁴, despite this, there has been a lack of mainstream conversation about the future of gun control. Perhaps President-Elect Joe Biden will put aside past pro-gun sentiments and gain true control on the issue.
Ultimately, If anything happens, I love you opens the pandora’s box that is the dark reality behind gun violence in the USA. While school shootings primarily touch us due to the innocence and young ages of victims involved, there is much to be said about all other occasions in which the lack of gun regulation has uselessly stolen loved ones from us. Beginning with the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting or the Dayton shooting. Controversially, the claim can be made that police violence is also fed by this deregulatory culture, with police-caused deaths, approximately 510 yearly¹, also being significantly higher than any other country.
Lobbying culture takes from the government what it should be; a caretaker, regulator, and provider for its citizens. With endless amounts of families going through the pain and grief depicted by McCormack’s film, priority should be given to battling and compensating the issue at hand. Background checks should be mandatory. Semi-automatic rifles should not be available to citizens. No one should have to fear losing a family member for going to school, work, or shopping for groceries.
As many protestors have chanted, I repeat “NRA: Our blood, their money.” It is time to make significant changes in the US government priorities.