When I was in high school, two shooters walked into Columbine High School and killed over a dozen people, injuring a score more. Columbine High School was a carbon copy of the high school I attended, and the administration was CERTAIN that we would have a copycat there. We drilled for it. We talked about it. And one of the teachers in my classroom, a wrestling coach who taught history, talked about how he would throw himself in front of the gunman for us.
I’ve watched the debate go down on Facebook over the last days. I’ve seen people somehow arguing about every conceivable part of this topic. Worst are the ones who somehow think that owning a high-powered gun is more important than children dying. They’re wrong.
When I was a teenager, we mourned Columbine. We told stories about it for years. We all pictured what we would do under that desk, what we would say if faced with the gun. We blamed ourselves, somehow, as a generation, for not befriending the shooters. We cried and screamed and mourned. And in the end, nothing changed. We’ve had shooting after shooting since, while the same tired refrains get said again and again. The kids at Parkland are smarter. They’re reeling, but they’re digging in, and they’re determined that this never happen again. Less than two weeks after the gunman came into their schools, they’re organizing, and demonstrating, and they’re confronting lawmakers. I am so proud, SO PROUD of them for this. They are smarter and stronger than we ever were, and refuse to be talked out of what they know to be true.
You are mighty, Parkland, and I stand with you. I’m giving towards the cause, I’m calling my state and national Congresspeople, and I will support any other way I can figure out how to do so. It’s time for kids to stop dying.
And for those who look to your guns and worry–take a moment to consider the life of a child you know, please. We regulate a lot of things in this country for the good of society and people. For the good of society we say you can’t buy alcohol until you’re 21. We say you have to pass a driving test to drive, and you’ll lose your license if you drive intoxicated. We have to fill out forms to buy Sudafed, and even then we can’t buy two at once. We can’t rent a car without huge penalties until 25, because the insurance companies don’t think a 24 year old was responsible enough yet to be handle the car. We don’t let people drive Mac trucks without specialty licenses. We don’t let untrained people handle large-scale fireworks, or bombs, for the good of society. Guns are just as dangerous as any of these, and too many kids have died for me to think we’re doing enough.
If you hunt, great. Limits on magazine sizes don’t really affect you–you want to kill the deer, not destroy the meat anyway. If you want a gun for self-defense, well, from my limited experience on the range, a nice low-caliber revolver is a lot more accurate for a newbie and you (and I) are more likely to hit what you’re aiming for with one. Love shooting something high-powered at the range? Let’s look into making these rentable with strict controls at a physical gun range, and not taken out. But anything–from bump stocks to large size magazines and semi-automatic firing–anything that makes it easier to kill a crowd no longer seems like a good idea to have in the hands of civilians. It turns out they use these things to kill crowds.
As the Parkland kids are saying loudly, it’s the guns. Let criminals have to get creative. Let’s make it a whole damn lot harder for them.
Oh, and the other things people are saying? I’m on board too. More funding for classrooms so teachers can actually know their students. More social workers, counselors, and cops at schools. More funding for mental health? Well, there’s more of a tie to anger and contempt than to mental health in most cases of violence, but hey, I agree we need a hell of a lot more funding for mental health in this country across the board. I’m on board. Let’s do it. While we’re at it, let’s provide more support for parents in this country, training and resources and help, so that parents can do a better job too. And let’s pay teachers better. And follow-through better on law enforcement. You’ve got an idea that might reasonably save kids’ lives? Sign me up. We’ll fund it somehow.
Because it’s time, okay? 19 years after Columbine and nothing has changed. It’s time for kids to stop dying.
I stand with Parkland.
I ask you to do the same. Call Congress. Call your state. Donate. Participate in a walk-out or a protest. Support your kid when they want to do the same.