The Missing Link in the Gun Debate

Greta Zarro -

Members of the Patch High School drill team compete in the team exhibition portion of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drill meet at Heidelberg High School April 25. (Photo: Kristen Marquez, Herald Post/flickr/cc)America is up in arms about guns. If last month’s “March for Our Lives,” which attracted over one million marchers nationwide, is any indication, we’ve got a serious problem with gun violence, and people are fired up about it.  

But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream media, or even by the organizers and participants in the March for Our Lives movement, is the link between the culture of gun violence and the culture of war, or militarism, in this nation. Nik Cruz, the now infamous Parkland, FL shooter, was taught how to shoot a lethal weapon in the very school that he later targeted in the heart-breaking Valentine’s Day Massacre. Yes, that’s right; our children are trained as shooters in their school cafeterias, as part of the U.S. military’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program.  

Nearly 2,000 U.S. high schools have such JROTC marksmanship programs, which are taxpayer-funded and rubber-stamped by Congress. Cafeterias are transformed into firing ranges, where children, as young as 13 years old, learn how to kill. The day that Nik Cruz opened fire on his classmates, he proudly wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the letters “JROTC.” JROTC's motto? "Motivating Young People to Be Better Citizens." By training them to wield a gun?  

Perhaps what’s key above all, however, is that JROTC, and U.S. militarism as a whole, is embedded in our sociocultural framework as Americans, so much so that to question it is to cast doubt on one’s patriotic allegiance to this nation.

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Teaching About the Wars

Teaching About the Wars breaks the curricular silence on the U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Even though the United States has been at war continuously since just after 9/11, sometimes it seems that our schools have forgotten. This collection of insightful articles and hands-on lessons shows that teachers have found ways to prompt their students to think critically about big issues. Here is the best writing fromRethinking Schools magazine on war and peace in the 21st century.

Teaching About the Wars is divided into five chapters:

    Introduction: Breaking the Silence on War
    The Road to War
    The Human Face of War
    Military Recruitment
    Anti-War Resistance

Contributing authors include Bill Bigelow, Ann Pelo, Margot Pepper, Bob Peterson, Özlem Sensoy, and Howard Zinn

Learn More

Demilitarizing Life & Land

FOR Life & LandThe Fellowship of Reconciliation pursues a vision of a free and “demilitarized” world in which the Earth’s resources sustain life and promote the well-being of all people. To do so, we challenge economic exploitation, work to eradicate racism and religious intolerance, and call attention to imperialistic U.S. foreign policy. As we continue to speak truth to power, FOR engages in an ongoing interfaith dialogue to shift the collective unconscious from a fear-based military culture to a peaceful world community grounded in faith and nonviolent justice. At the start of 2011, we launched a series of projects, campaigns, and collaborations to demilitarize life and land in the Americas and the Middle East.

Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It

Sowing SeedsThrough articles, images, survey data and interviews, Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It documents the seeds of war that are planted in the minds of young people in many different countries. However, it also explores the seeds of resistance to this militarisation that are being sown resiliently and creatively by numerous people. We hope the book will help to disseminate these latter seeds. It is not just a book for peace and antimilitarist activists: it is a book for parents and grandparents, teachers, youth workers, and young people themselves.

Author(s)/editor(s):
Owen Everett
Publisher:
War Resisters' International
Year published:
2013
ISBN:
978-0-903517-27-0

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Military Recruiting in the United States Paperback – December 8, 2016
by Pat Elder (Author)

Parents of high schoolers need to know that the Pentagon consciously conspires to abridge student privacy (as a means of enriching the recruiter's contact data), misleads the public and school administrators, and even risks public health (see the chapter on lead residue from shooting ranges) in order to obtain sufficient numbers of new recruits.
I also highly recommend this book for high school guidance counselors and school administrators. R. Bolger - Oregon

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Counter-recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools

Scott Harding and Seth Kershner are the authors of a new book, Counter-recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools (Palgrave Macmillan). Drawing on dozens of interviews with activists conducted between 2012 and 2014, their book describes the various tactics used to demilitarize public schools in the United States.  They also discuss case studies of successful organizing and advocacy to challenge the presence of military programs in educational settings. For more info, visit: http://www.palgrave.com.

 

 

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The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) is supported by individual contributions and a grant by the Craigslist Charitable Fund - 2016 Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.