Will.i.am Tells Davos Americans Are "Desensitized" to Mass School Shootings

Will.I.Am - WORLDZ Cultural Marketing Summit - Getty - H 2017
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"It doesn't make any sense at all. So many kids have lost their lives, just for going to school," the Emmy and Grammy winner on Wednesday told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Emmy- and Grammy-award winner will.i.am on Wednesday told Davos elites that Americans are desensitized to mass school shootings, especially those involving semi-automatic weaponry, due to a lack of gun control measures.

"It doesn't make any sense at all. So many kids have lost their lives, just for going to school. ... It happens so much in America. And we're desensitized," he told a session on the fight to end gun violence at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The panel, which included 13-year-old gun control activist Naomi Wadler, included a clip from the will.i.am- and Katie Couric-executive produced Parkland Rising, a documentary about young people and their families in the aftermath of the Feb. 14, 2018, school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

That shooting claimed the lives of 17 people and spawned a nationwide movement for gun control. Wadler, the youngest American delegate at Davos, said she has never personally lived through a mass school shooting, but they remain "horrifying" for her because, like many Americans, she had become desensitized herself.

"It didn't really affect me, because I was used to it. But being with the kids and being able to talk to them and share their pain and really being able to motivate ourselves has made me realize we deserve better than this," Wadler told the Davos panel about her activism.

will.i.am said that he hoped Parkland Rising, directed by Cheryl Horner McDonough, will put audiences into the minds of young people that have survived mass school shootings. "It's this dark, close-minded perception that we have when we think of school shootings. We don't see them. They [the media] only show the kids walking away, in a line. ... We haven't been put in the kids' shoes," he explained.

The Black Eyed Peas founding member, who makes film and TV projects via his i.Am Media Company, said the gun control movement has had to face down "next-level bullying" from the gun rights lobby, which regards young activists like those that featured in Parkland Rising as a "nuisance."

"We're not saying that we want to take the right to bear arms away. How about some protocols and checks? People that have mental health issues should not have weapons," will.i.am told the Davos audience.

He also took direct aim at semi-automatic rifles and other military-grade weaponry available to Americans. "Why is it I can go out right now and buy military-freaking weapons? What the hell am I trying to kill? We're not saying we want to take away your rifle to go out and game. But that AK47? Come on, guys, you know that's not right," will.i.am argued at one point.

As to the order of priority, he called for politicians in the U.S. to first bring in background checks for gun purchases. "We can get that passed. Then assault weapons, we can get that passed," will.i.am said.