Another mass shooting in the U.S., another lackluster response? Not this time! Trying to keep up with news in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 died, has been like trying to keep up with the latest outrageous tweets by President Trump. By the time I’ve digested one development, something else is going on.
Of course, apathy, as expected, from politicians is still the status quo, but the kids have had enough and don’t plan to take it anymore! Just one week later and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students – and many more, including elementary school students, across the state of Florida and across the nation – are staging walkouts. In Tallahassee, Florida, the state capital, they were told “appointments only”, so they set up 70. Trump is holding a “listening session” today at 4:15 p.m. and there is a Town Hall meeting, hosted by CNN, scheduled for this evening at 9:00 p.m. in which a spokesperson from the National Rifle Association (NRA) – shamefully mum on the shooting so far – has apparently accepted an invite.
“Arms are for hugging,” said one sign carried by a student. Good point. Let’s talk about this for a moment. Yesterday I re-watched Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine and because of one interview honed in on that word from the Second Amendment. As pointed out in Human Misery Unleashed after Las Vegas, the wording around the right to bear arms is subject to misinterpretation, but note it does not say “guns”. And “arms” are? Arms actually go beyond guns. Arms are whatever is needed to wage war. Weapons, ammunition, armaments. Tanks. Bombs. Nuclear bombs? How far should arms go? I believe, like the message on this student’s sign, arms should go to the end of one’s arms and reach out to hug people.
I get so upset about these shootings and subsequent lack of action by U.S. politicians on gun control that this time I’d decided to avoid news accounts. Instead, I planned to focus on all the love our local skating champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, were melting the ice with over in PyeongChang. But Virtue and Moir are exceptional, so they skate in the last flight, late at night. While waiting, I read a little bit about the shooting, then a bit more, and then the swift and articulate response (okay, a few swear words have been used, but look at what these kids went through) by the affected students had me fantasizing about a peaceful movement. One similar to the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. I thought well, maybe next year? On the anniversary of the shooting, perhaps? They could be organized by then?
Oh no. Not these kids. They’re acting now. They’re intelligent and mad as hell and, with the help of social media, organized. And there isn’t just one spokesperson. I’ve listened to impassioned speeches from several. One survivor, Florence Yared, wearing a blue t-shirt with “#WeAreTheChange We call BS” on it, spoke from detailed, researched notes at a #NeverAgain rally outside the Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee about how unacceptable it is that there’s been one mass shooting in the U.S./week for the last five years. Inside, at a Press Conference, Lorenzo Prado, begging for “common sense laws” on guns, wept when he talked about how his description matched that of the shooter and he was taken down by SWAT team members, cuffed and held for a period of time. Ryan Deitsch said of lawmakers, “The more they don’t act, the more they don’t deserve to be in office. America does not deserve this. Humanity does not deserve this.” Alfonso Calderon, admitted yes, we’re just kids, but we understand what’s going on. He said, “We will not stop this movement. This is more than Parkland, more than Florida, more than America. This is about human lives.”
Exhausted and overwhelmed – from the shooting, funerals and disappointment yesterday in Tallahassee when lawmakers refused to even consider a debate banning assault weapons – Delaney Tarr spoke from the heart. “We’ve had enough of thoughts and prayers,” she said. “The people around us failed us. No longer can you take money from the NRA. We are demanding you make a change.”
Oh, and I really liked how Dimitri Hoth pointed out that the Second Amendment was written 241 years ago and how gun laws haven’t changed since then, but guns sure have.
Action. These kids are speaking up, acting themselves and demanding action from lawmakers. They’re realistic too, accepting that change could take years, but after what they just experienced? They say they’re prepared to fight for that change for the rest of their lives.
The movement is #NeverAgain. The upcoming march is March For Our Lives. From their website: “On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.”
That they are successful in achieving historic positive changes to gun control in the U.S.? Now this is something worth sending thoughts and prayers for.