The World

Feb 21, 2018

Why teens’ protests over US gun laws demand serious attention

US students have been making headlines recently for their vocal opposition to the nation's gun laws. And they aren't backing down.

Meg Watson — Associate editor

Meg Watson

Associate editor

“We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around. You are either with us or against us.”

This week, high school student Cameron Kasky stared down a CNN news camera and issued the above warning to US legislators. He was joined in frame by his classmates including Emma Gonzalez, a teen who had, one day earlier, stood in front of hundreds of protesters and challenged President Donald Trump to take her on:

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

17 thoughts on “Why teens’ protests over US gun laws demand serious attention

  1. Richard Shortt

    This issue calls for mass protest. On the streets, loudly, defying calls to stop and demanding immediate and demonstrable change, not just the proposed tinkering around the edges that are on the lips of political figures.

    But, does this generation have what it takes? Tweeting, liking and posting won’t cut it. Feet stamping and name calling from afar won’t cut it.

    They need to mobilise, march and prove themselves resolute over time and efforts to silence them. Anything less will fail as all previous attempts have failed.

    1. graybul

      Your right Richard. But American youth are virtually the last bastion. Whether they get it right, or stuff up we cannot, must not sell them short. Their country is crumbling around them and without doubt they are in the firing line. The next two generations of American youth are tasked with adapting their countries acceptance of change from the pre-eminent position of world leadership, or at least sharing (balancing).

    2. K

      I wonder whether we are perhaps seeing the start of a new cycle of youth protest and political engagement – the late 60s repeating, but perhaps with shorter hair and less dope? Kids are disengaging with Facebook and Twitter. Conversely, they are re-engaging with community through volunteering and activism (Get-Up!, as an example), at the same time as the older generations who would otherwise be the political leaders – late Boomers and Gen X) are disengaging in frustration. There is a real opportunity for youth to step into the vacuum and to be heard (setting aside the scientific impossibility of that statement). Hopefully, not only will they take it up, but they will be supported in doing so by their elders and the meeja.

    3. bref

      I agree Richard, in the 60s neither the parents of the conscripts who were dying in a useless war or the politicians seemed able to or even wanted to stop the Vietnam war. It was the student protest movement which in the end made the difference.
      And here we are again. Where have the students’ parents been on this issue over the last few years? How many parents were against gun control until they were personally involved? I hope this is the beginning of a groundswell that will spill over state borders and into campuses all over America and force change despite effete politicians and parents.

      1. AR

        Unfortunately the 60s student protests did not stop nor slow nor disrupt the increasing militarisation (it all started with a few ‘advisers’) of US society.
        At its peak there were in excess of half a million US troops from 1968 until the early 70s.
        The end of the draft in 1972 meant that only ‘volunteers’ for the Army would go a’killing abroad and the protests more or less fell away, except for dirty hippies & their ilk.

    4. Charlie Chaplin

      “But, does this generation have what it takes? ” Let’s hope so, because my generation (X) and the one before it (the Boomers) let the lot slip away.

      1. bref

        If a million kids march, I hope we see 2 million parents along side them. Its time.

  2. Bill Hilliger

    The American way of sprouting meaningless and frivolous drivel of “my thoughts and prayers” at these sorts of events has never worked (God never responds) and it seems at last, that this time, the ratbags that sprout “thoughts and prayers” drivel are being called out.

  3. Peter Wileman

    But isn’t it all too late? there are almost as many guns in the US as there are people, and no doubt this latest atrocity has led to a mass buying spree of even more, and the argument that good man with a gun can stop a bad man with a gun will keep them buying more. The genie is out of the bottle. How do you get it back in?

    1. Richard Shortt

      Yes, Peter, the genie is out and you cannot put it back. But, you can draw a line under it so that it I should not joined by any future genies. You can starve it of oxygen such as parts, ammunition, repairs. You can offer amnesty’s with payment for weapons surrendered (the US remains the richest country on the planet!), you can further incentivise law enforcement to locate and seize weapons held unlawfully (make the ATF bigger, stronger, smarter) and you can increase enforcement of the current laws.

      You can work to change the culture from what it is to what you want it to be – think seatbelts, drinking and driving, litter.

      You don’t simply have to roll over and accept that it is a Herculean task, you can actually lead change. But that all presupposes that the US has fearless leaders. I’m not sure it does.

      1. Kevin_T

        “But that all presupposes that the US has fearless leaders. I’m not sure it does.”

        … or they may turn out to be the 16 and 17 year olds actively leading this current movement.

        1. Peter Wileman

          But still, with all of the hardware out there, whilst law abiding, concerned, thinking citizens may respond, what about the rest? Not necessarily (or even) the criminals, what about the ‘Hunters’? the discontented? the borderline nutters? the ‘macho he men’? the conspiracy believers? those that believe that “a good man with a gun….”? the religious right? the white supremacists? the jihadists? the methodists?

  4. John Critcher

    Students protesting something other than student loans. Who would have thunk it. Maybe the times they are achangin’ again.

  5. AR

    Alas, I think that deSouza has a point. Just think of what was built by this cohort upon Occupy…

  6. klewso

    Why don’t countries south of the border, from Mexico, rate news when it comes to gun violence, compared to what we get from the US? … Because they’re “so different”?

    1. bref

      I think we expect something better than a mass shooting a day from a 1st world country than from a 3rd world country. Even if you count all countries, an average of a mass shooting a day is rare.

  7. Rocky Horror

    So the mass shootings started not long after WW2 – a rather short war for Americans. So what first appeared in the US after WW2, apart from Nazi scientists?

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details