Parkland Students Take the Gun-Control Bull by the Horns
After another horrendous mass school shooting followed by the usual limp thoughts-and-prayers condolences from right-wing politicians around the country, students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed on Wednesday, 14 February, decided to address the matter themselves.
On Feb. 17, three days after the mass shooting, they traveled to Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital, to call for a statewide assault weapons ban. This direct appeal to the state legislature followed protests outside schools, social media activity, and national television appearances. The legislators’ response was short and sweet. The motion to introduce a law to ban assault rifles was defeated, 36 to 71, in a vote along party lines. The procedure lasted 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Most of the 71 state representatives who voted against the ban enjoyed an A rating from the National Rifle Association.
William Rivers Pitt, writing for Truthout.org, sums up the current school-shooting situation in the U.S. succinctly, and with admiration for the students who are taking a meaningful stand on gun control:
It has been 19 years since Columbine, six years since Sandy Hook, five months since Las Vegas and four months since Sutherland Springs. There have been 438 people shot in 239 school shootings since 20 kids my daughter’s age were cut down in Newtown by the same weapon that took 17 more lives in Parkland last week.
In all that time and after all that blood, the script has not wavered an inch: There is outrage, the National Rifle Association (NRA) digs in and reminds Congress of the fragility of their re-election prospects, and it all goes away until the bodies drop again.
Not this time. This time, there are these youth, who have lived their entire lives deep in the shadow of unchecked gun violence in schools, who have lived their entire lives in a country fighting permanent wars all over the globe, and with the threat of terrorism thrown in their faces on a daily basis. They do not appear to scare easily, and they have mastered the art of social media in a way their chosen adversaries will never know.
They survived a horror in their own school and are taking action to keep it from happening again. They have stout hearts, and will need them, because they have squared off against some of the vilest people this country is capable of producing.
An NBC crew recorded this declaration from one of the student survivors of the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting on Feb. 18, addressed to President Donald Trump: “You are in that exact position right now, and you want to look back on our history and blame the Democrats? That’s disgusting,” David Hogg told NBC. “You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you? Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that. Please take action. Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-Lago. Take action. Work with Congress.”
Solidarity with the Stoneman Students Quickly Materialized
Students from West Boca Raton High School were the first to react. They gathered in the courtyard of their school for a peaceful protest — 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims — but then someone opened a door and walked out, and others followed. “Everybody started walking,” one student told the local news channel. “It felt like half the school was walking.” As the students walked south on U.S. Highway 441 towards Parkland, 10 miles away, sheriff’s deputies lined the road to control traffic and protect them but did not interfere.
Students from around the country joined forces and forged ahead, convening two marches on Washington to demand congressional action on gun violence, the “National School Walkout” scheduled for March 14 and the “March for Our Lives” on March 24. According to the Huffington Post, two 16-year-old students from the Washington, D.C. area, Whitney Bowen and Eleanor Nuechterlein, founded Teens For Gun Reform just two days after the Parkland shooting.
NRA Financing for Legislators–and the President–Stickies the Wicket
Survivors of the Parkland school shooting have also expressed their disgust with President Trump and the legislators who receive campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. This fact proves to be an extremely tricky one for the politicians to refute. The Washington Post reports that Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School and one of the shooting survivors, boldly challenged the politicians accepting NRA financing:
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should have never happened and maintain telling us that nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” declared Gonzalez, a senior at Douglas. “To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you! If you actively do nothing, people will continue to end up dead.”
The Solution to Gun Control Seems to Be a Different Kind of War
The American solution for the most varied and unlikely problems is war. They’ve got the war on crime, the war on drugs, on terrorism, on poor nations rich in resources, on their own poor… Now they’ve got a new war, with a new twist, new protagonists and new adversaries. It’s the war on legislators who are on the take–politicians at both state and national levels whose election campaigns are financed in greater or lesser degree by the National Rifle Association, and this war’s protagonists are American high-school students.
“But those campaign contributions are legal,” you protest. Yes, they are legal, because the members of Congress and the state legislatures legalized them themselves, for their own benefit and that of the NRA. But that doesn’t make them decent. As soon as the United States has a decent government that law will be repealed. (But then, as long as the law is in force, how are honest men and women supposed to get elected to office? That’s another problem to be overcome.)
Part 2/3 coming soon
Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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