Print Edition - 2019-01-09  |  The Collegian

Taking on gun culture

- Nabin Shrestha

Jan 9, 2019-

Hushing and rushing for calculus class, something caught my eye. It was an advertisement on the bulletin board that aims to raise awareness about how America is gifting their children a future riddled with guns and few laws. The ad reminds the audience that some of our rules concerning simple objects like books are unnecessary while other dangerous objects like guns remain unregulated and harmful. This advertisement is designed to encourage the American audience to become informed and more engaged in regulation.

This advertisement shows a girl holding a book, which is a symbol of enlightenment, and another girl is holding a gun, a symbol of violence. The book, Little Red Riding Hood, is banned because of the bottle of wine on its front cover page. However, the assault weapon can be freely carried by students. This ad depicts the current hypocrisy over banned items in American schools. An item meant for reading and learning is banned while a weapon of violence is considered acceptable.

This issue was raised by concerned moms and their organisation, ‘Moms Demand Action’. They want to highlight the truth of the schooling system in the USA by appealing to the reader to show concern for the way their children are being raised in an environment where violence prevails. The ad also supports equality and justice by portraying two characters where one is white and the other black. This can also be interpreted as, when it comes to education, people of any race, colour, ethnicity, and background are treated equally.

This advertisement focuses on a master narrative concerning the future of children. The young children are pictured in a library, which is associated with learning, growing and nurturing. A student’s primary responsibility is to learn and adjust to the complicated adult world. The ad’s setting in an educational environment assures the audience that their future has potential and their lives are just beginning. However, this idyllic future is drastically altered due to the presence of a large assault rifle pictured with the children. The ad questions their future due to the influence of the weapon and the continuous spread of gun culture in the United States.

The ad is using these children and their innocence to emotionally appeal to the audience. Since children represent innocence and helplessness, using their image to discuss violent weapons is a strategic method for gaining awareness. To see a child depicted with an assault rifle is a direct disruption of what we consider to be true about children. The audience will be concerned and confused, and react with deep engagement because their instincts want them to never see a child armed with a weapon again. Additionally, the ad employs irony, because of the way the white student is holding the gun. Her hand placement on the gun is firm and the way she is looking to the audience shows that she is focused, alert and composed. This is ironic because a child of her age should not know how to hold an assault weapon correctly.

Guns are typically advertised as tools to protect loved ones, but the ad questions if they have become so normalised in society that it makes sense for a child to already know how to use one. While Americans do not believe children should use assault rifles, the ad leads viewers to recognise how normal it has become for guns to be a part of every aspect of American culture or identity.

 There is also a logical relationship between the flag of the United States and the empty chair. In the far-left corner, there is an American flag which is typical in any American classroom or library. However, while this flag seems like an invisible object, it serves to remind viewers that this tragic situation is uniquely an American problem. Children gaining access to assault weapons is specific to American culture and while the flag reminds the audience of America’s virtues, it also serves as a reminder that the pursuit of happiness is not applicable to all persons, especially if their lives are cut short due to gun violence.

There is also an empty rocking chair pictured on the right side of the ad. The chair looms in the background, much larger than the children in the front of the picture. This chair is for teachers, librarians or any other adults who may read to students. However, this chair being empty represents the largely absent adult commentary concerning gun violence. This is an appeal to our logical reasoning because children with dangerous objects should be monitored.

Finally, today’s children are tomorrow’s adults. The way we shape them really matters. Children should be given proper education and their activities should be monitored. Otherwise, we will be forced to see and experience the consequences that society must bear in the near future, just because we cannot control guns.

- Shrestha is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Computer Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the US

Published: 09-01-2019 08:54

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