My wife and I watched the CNN broadcast of the Town Hall meeting with students from Stoneman Douglas High School the week after the shooting.  CNN carried an article the next day, as did the Guardian newspaper online.

We were moved and impressed by the articulate, direct and passionate appeals from the students, parents and teachers for changes in state and federal gun laws.  We are encouraged that the #NEVERAGAIN movement they have ignited will finally break the silence and political stalemate on efforts to achieve reasonable and coherent gun safety policies.   We are going to support this movement and do what we can to see that it succeeds.   

The Insanity of a Limitless Gun Culture

Several points were clarified for us during the broadcast.  Both Senator Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch (of the NRA) deserve credit for appearing at the event, but both repeatedly ducked questions about an assault weapons ban, and both appealed to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution.  The 2nd Amendment reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” The two suggest that the 2nd Amendment assures that any citizen has the right to be armed as necessary in order to protect themselves against an over-reaching government.   

Perhaps this interpretation made sense when personal firearm technology meant muskets and pistols, at a time when the government had no standing army.  But what does this interpretation mean today when the US military commands vast arsenals of high-tech, high-powered weaponry and legions of military personnel trained to use them?  Personal weaponry does not, and cannot, protect you from government overreach.  What really protects us is our shared trust in the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a free press, and a willingness to work together towards common goals.  If we lose these bastions of freedom, no amount of personal weapons will protect any of us.

President Trump, and others, have responded to the tragedy by suggesting that teachers be armed and that the response to gun attacks should be to shoot the shooter.  The County Sheriff said schools should be built more securely with bulletproof materials.  Others have suggested schools need armed guards and local police carrying rifles.  What kind of an environment are we creating for kids?

Imagine our schools, shopping malls, and music concerts guarded by well-armed personnel.  Will they be military or police, teachers and clerks, or hired contractors?  What will this armed presence feel like? This scenario sounds more like a police state or a prison than a free and open society.  And what if this expanded police or police-like presence begins to over-reach?  What will protect us then?

The arguments that suggest that guns protect us and make us safer are illogical. They are also contrary to the facts. States with stricter guns laws have less gun violence. 

The Time Has Come

Now is the time to stand up and make reasonable changes to our gun laws.  We should ban assault–style weapons and the associated munitions and equipment that enable them.  We should create a coherent and comprehensive system of background checks and implement prudent limits on handguns and concealed carry provisions.  We should expand training and funding for mental health monitoring and treatment.  These measures should apply to ALL states. ALL levels of law enforcement should participate in the implementation process.  We must stop the partisan bickering among politicians. They must work together to protect the public interests or be voted out of office, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY ARE IN.

Here are the upcoming dates of events in support of #NEVERAGAIN:

National School Walkout: March 14.  A nationwide walkout organized by Youth EMPOWER, the Women’s March branch of young activists.  Students and faculty members are being asked to walk off campus at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes ― one minute for each person killed in the Parkland shooting.

March For Our Lives: March 24.  Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other schools are planning a march on Washington ― with sister marches around the country ― to demand better gun control legislation.   

Columbine Anniversary School Walkout: April 20.  Another “National School Walkout” is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado: wear orange, walk off campus at 10 a.m. and sit outside peacefully to demand that Congress act on gun control legislation.  

Finally, here is the link to Everytown for Gun Safety USA, a 5+ million strong and growing organization dedicated to achieving reasonable gun laws at the state and federal level.  

I have hope for positive cultural change and the betterment of humanity.

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