After the Sandy Hook massacre in December of 2012 which took the lives of 20 first grade children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members, I was sure that Congress would be forced to act. Barrack Obama was President and pushed hard for sensible gun control legislation. Surely the slaughter of so many of these precious innocents would spur politicians to action. However, the tentacles of the National Rifle Association, whose life blood is the funding by the gun manufacturing companies, were sunk too deep into the fabric of American political life. Despite the agonized pleas of the parents of the young children gun down in the shooting and the work of gun control activists, sensible background checks and assault rifle Legislation aimed at preventing another similar tragedy died on the floors of both houses of the US Congress.
That’s when I began to lose hope that anything would ever be done to avert this type of tragedy. If the death of these precious little ones whose pictures were scrolled across our TV screens was not enough to loosen the death grip the NRA maintains on the necks of our Senators and Representatives, then surely sensible gun control legislation would never become a reality.
However, for the first time in over five years, I am starting to hope again that I was wrong. It is insane that it has taken the deaths of seventeen young students and their teachers Stoneman Douglas High School to again bring the gun control to the forefront of national discussion, but I am beginning to believe that something good will come out of this tragedy.
Why would I dare to hope that this time it will be different when politicians did nothing after so many mass shootings? For one thing I believe we have finally reached a tipping point in this country when the majority of our voting population are starting to believe that “enough is enough!” However, my best hope lies in the belief that the surviving victims of this tragedy, the fellow high school students of those who were so senselessly gunned down are not going to back down. This calamity has given them a platform that they don’t appear ready to relinquish any time soon. They know that it could just as easily could have been their parents who might have been burying them today. They are taking this personally and they seem more than up to the task.
They are articulate and motivated. In speeches broadcast nationwide on cable news channels and other media outlets these young people have managed to shame lawmakers at every level for their lack of action. They have taken on the NRA directly and made that organization their number one enemy. Even while the funerals of some of their schoolmates and teachers are proceeding today, some of them are in Tallahassee to day urging Florida state legislators to ban the assault weapons which facilitated the murders of their fellow students. On March 14th they are planning a walk out and protest of students nationwide to bring further attention to their cause.
If I could advise these I would tell them this. Don’t let up; keep up the pressure. Right now neither the NRA nor most of the politicians the organization controls are stupid enough to confront you directly. That’s a fight against teenagers they know they can’t win. They fully understand that can’t get away with maligning the young victims of this horrible school shooting. They are hunkering down in their holes, waiting for all of this to blow over like it always has in the past. Their waiting for the news cycle to turn over and for this Florida massacre to recede in our memories so they can proceed with doing nothing in peace.
Don’t let that happen! Grab the headlines time and time again anyway you can and continue to do it until something is done! Stage protest marches in Washington at the Capital Building and the White House. Schedule nationwide walkouts and protests every month if that’s what it takes. Already key Republicans are starting to admit that something must be done, but talk is cheap, and they have used this delaying tactic before on a number of issues, yet ultimately have done nothing. Keep the pressure on until they are forced into action. If they still fail to respond, help make them pay in the mid-term elections.
Yes, I know. Many of you reading this are thinking that my optimism is misplaced, that I am incredibly naïve, but I am telling you that this is best opportunity we have had in a long time to force action at the state and national level. The enemies of sensible gun control are teetering off balance from the attack of these young people. We need to join with these young heroes and push those obstinate politicians over the brink! But let the young people who have the most to lose lead.