There have been other school shootings, other tragic senseless murders. Countless, really. Why is this one any different? I think it’s the students. It’s their pure, raw, real voices. I can’t watch the TV without crying. I can’t stop thinking about 17 young people who are gone, and of their surviving classmates who are left with the choking reality of real terror and the images of their friends screaming, running, hiding, bleeding, dying. The voice of one girl pierced my heart when she said that no one is thinking about what they should wear to prom or what college they will attend anymore. This was reality in another life. Now all she has on her mind is the death of her friends.
Previously when watching reports of other sick and senseless school shootings, I’ve identified with parents and grandparents of slain children and it has been powerful and emotional and I’ve been horrified. This time, however, as I listened to the survivors, I could actually imagine cowering in my own high school classroom listening to rapid gunfire and praying that my life would be spared while wondering which of my friends wouldn’t survive. I feel raw outrage and shame that our country isn’t better than this.
I was in Europe when the news broke about the massacre in Florida. World news coverage makes it clear that this is specifically an American problem. We defend ourselves with the lame excuse of our second amendment right. Besides the NRA and those who profit financially from gun sales, (including politicians), is there any sane person out there that really believes this right guarantees anyone and everyone the right to own any kind of weapon they want, even ones capable of mass killing? We’re not talking about your hunting guns or the gun you bought to protect your home or family. We’re talking about weapons of offense, the kinds used for one purpose only – massive human carnage. Can anyone explain to me why anyone needs such a weapon?
Shame on us. Shame on my generation. We’ve allowed that 2nd amendment right to go way too far. It trumps the right to life. Life, liberty and happiness. Life, people! The right to go to school and live. The right to ponder prom dates, football banquets, final exams. And when it is suggested that we solve this problem by adding more weapons to the mix, we must scream foul! We must ask ourselves who benefits financially from that? More guns? Really? Doesn’t that conjure up images of the old wild west? Is that what we want? Really? Is that what a great America looks like? Are we not capable of much better than that?
The students of Stoneman Douglas have taken up the challenge of bringing some sense, some good thing out of the loss of their right to experience any semblance of a normal high school life and the right to grow up with 17 of their friends and classmates. Their voices, joined by the youth in every school, in every state of this nation will lead us forward into a better America. They won’t stop until we have real common sense gun laws.
One large political donor has had enough. He pledges never to write another check to a candidate who opposes banning assault weapons. Others will join him. One company cuts ties with the NRA. Other companies follow suit. Still others will follow.
When there is a lack of leadership, the youth will rise up. When there are seemingly no solutions due to conflicted alliances and allegiances, the youth will rise up. When there are no answers to specific questions but diversions, candid talking points, and spin, the youth will rise up. They will speak with certainty, clarity and simplicity.
‘BS!’, they cry and thousands join them. Thousands more will follow. They will have the right to vote soon, and they will vote. They will run for office and they will change things. They can and will do better. Godspeed!