Local students participated in #NationalSchoolWalkout on Wednesday to protest gun violence, demand stricter legislation and to memorialize the 17 students who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Some students participated in school-organized efforts to write, call or text legislators and ceremonies that included moments of silence. Others made the conscious decision to stand up strongly for their beliefs and risk detention or other punishment by walking out. In all cases there was open communication between students and school administrators and an amazingly strong, yet peaceful and organized, showing of support toward the kind of common sense gun control changes that will make all of us safer. We applaud these students and most of the schools for supporting them.
It’s time for us as citizens of this great community and country to follow the students’ lead and demand more, now. This isn’t an attack on the Second Amendment, it’s about applying common sense to make all of us, especially our children, safer. The NRA-driven response to the Parkland tragedy has been to put MORE guns in schools. Across the country, we’ve even seen legislators pledge budgetary support for arming of teachers. This stance makes a crass mockery of the terrible event and is strictly an attempt to sell more guns. There WAS an armed police deputy posted at Parkland who could have intervened. He didn't.
Does anyone really believe this makes sense? Anyone who does maybe missed the story this week about the teacher in California who injured three students while accidentally firing his gun during a gun-safety demonstration in the classroom. The solution to reducing gun violence in America is to disarm dangerous people, not to arm teachers. Serving as armed personnel in schools should NEVER be added to any teacher’s job description. Doing so would be dangerous, and would distract teachers from their responsibility to focus on student learning. And those additional dollars that have materialized to be spent on guns and training, how about investing them back into music, art, science and math-related programs?
We cannot rely on legislative leadership alone to fix this problem in our country for us. The solution starts with us and using our voice, in one of its most powerful forms: a vote. There have been a number of proposed solutions, such as raising the purchase age, stricter background checks and national registries and limiting the access and sale of assault weapons and dangerous attachments like bump stocks. None of these options offers a 100 percent perfect solution but they are a good start. The alternative, doing nothing and waiting for the next tragedy, is something we can no longer accept. We must hold our state and national representatives responsible to meaningful change. Start now by letting them know what you want but most importantly follow this up with action at the polls.
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