EDITORIAL: NRA, meet your match
The National Rifle Association has a single issue: To prevent any regulations that impede unfettered access to all manner of firearms.
The school children of America have a single issue: To complete their public educations without being shot at, wounded or killed in the classroom.
It is time for the rest of America to decide which contingent it stands with.
And yes, after last Wednesday’s murderous shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it is an either-or decision. Seventeen students and teachers were killed inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and another 15 were wounded.
If those figures aren’t making it painfully clear, the students themselves are: the adults are failing them. First among those adults their elected officials, and first among those elected officials are the state and federal lawmakers who are beholden to the NRA.
The inability to honestly examine the proliferation, distribution and availability of firearms in this nation is a national embarrassment.
The unwillingness to take even minor steps toward more strictly regulating firearms and related accessories in this nation is shameful. (Remember all the fretting about “bump stocks” last year after a gunman in Las Vegas used the device to convert semiautomatic rifles into virtually automatics rifles, with which he killed 59 people, including a Shippensburg man, and wounded hundreds — hundreds — more? They’re still legal.)
The willingness to trust the lives of innocent American children to adequately locked doors, shelter-in-place policies and timely SWAT responses is criminal.
But those schoolchildren — as well as movie fans, concert-goers, parishioners and all manner of workers — have been left to fend for themselves, forsaken by legislators who are cowed by NRA threats and fattened by NRA lucre.
The kids have had enough. They’ve had enough of running scared. Of seeing news reports of young people who look like them suddenly cast as victims or survivors. Of enduring lockdown drills. Of wondering when those with the power to enforce greater protections will do so or, more to the point, why they won’t.
So Parkland, Florida, has become home not only to the expected post-catastrophe mourning and solidarity, but to new types of emotions: Anger, impatience, defiance.
If their elected officials won’t stand up to the NRA, the kids will. And they’ll take on those NRA-backed lackeys in the statehouse and Congress while they’re at it.
“To every politician that is taking donations from the NRA,” declared Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez during a recent rally, “shame on you!”
Students aren’t stopping at fiery speeches. They’re planning public demonstrations — a March for Our Lives on March 24 among them — to keep the heat on politicians to address the very real, very deadly problem of gun voilence.
There’s no time to lose.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas attack was the 30th mass shooting of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It fell on the 35th day of the year.
This is not even a record-setting pace. Last year there were 346 mass shootings in the United States.
The 17 fatalities made the incident one of the 10 deadliest in the nation’s history. This marks the third time in the past six months that a new mass shooing has become one of the nation’s 10 deadliest. It is insane that such statistics even exist.
The students of Parkland are tired of waiting for protections that show no sign of materializing. The students — none of whom were alive when the tragic events of Columbine were supposed to have shaken the nation awake to the insanity of its lax gun laws — are tired of waiting for unresponsive, irresponsible lawmakers to put the lives of backpack-toting students ahead of the political agenda of gun-toting donors.
Much as the #metoo movement broke the floodgates on sexual abuse and harassment, the students have adopted #menext? and they are ready to break the logjam of opposition against common-sense gun regulation.
The NRA, or the students: It is time for America to decide which contingent it stands with.
We’re with the kids.