I was stopped behind a school bus on my way to work this morning and as I sat there, at first mildly annoyed for the delay, I watched the children getting on board and the moms standing on the sidewalk waving goodbye to their kids. All at once, I felt a rush of great sadness — how many parents have waved goodbye to their children not knowing it would be the last time? Parents in Parkland, Florida are the latest to suffer this most horrific of all parental nightmares, the deaths of their children at the hands of a madman with an assault rifle. They and the families of the murdered faculty and staff, and those who survived but must live with the memories of the horror, now join the longest, most damning parade in human history, the parade of the living victims of gun violence in America, a parade populated by the survivors and families of Las Vegas and Sandy Hook and Orlando and Aurora and Virginia Tech and Columbine and so many other places across this nation. In just two months in 2018, there have been 18 school shootings. The year is young.
Yes, the young man who perpetrated this latest massacre is sick, as were the (mostly) men who perpetrated the other mass gun murders. Yes, there were signs he could have been stopped. Yes, the school took all precautions and did active shooter drills, to no real purpose except to provide some semblance of a protection that is impossible to provide. No amount of drills can stop the madness. No after-the-murder dissecting of family life and mental health can stop the next act of mayhem.
The craven political response to the prevalence of gun violence is outrageous. The extent to which the money of the National Rifle Association has corrupted our democracy is appalling. The majority of Americans want sensible gun controls but this ongoing demand of We the People is repeatedly stifled and shunted aside by members of Congress and people in the White House who are beholden to the NRA’s political money.
This nation is very confused about the Second Amendment, an artifact of colonial times and in reaction to the struggle of the young republic to keep itself free from British rule. The militia was the basis for the Revolutionary War in an age before the creation of the U.S. Army, and even in the early years of the new country there was no standing army so the idea of the “…well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” was the means by which the nation maintained its sovereignty against external powers. “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is the clause in relation to the militia, not a general statement to allow people in 2018 to build arsenals of assault rifles.
Does this nation want to stop the violence, or not? The moral question is simple. And the moral course of action is clear: imposing reasonable controls on the sale and possession of guns is the most important thing this nation can do to proclaim it’s believe that “life and liberty” are pre-eminent values. Sure, gun controls won’t stop all gun violence, but the failure to enact reasonable gun laws is also a statement — a statement that says that the nation will tolerate mass murder as a political calculus for some people to stay in power.
And, by the way, some of the very politicians who claim to be oh-so-pro-life are precisely the ones who are beholden to the gun lobby.
A nation that cares about the health and safety of its people would have acted on gun control decades ago. But it’s not too late. We need action NOW.
Thoughts and prayers? No. ACTION NOW. STOP THE GUN VIOLENCE.
Let’s make it possible for parents to wave goodbye to their kids on the school bus without fear.