By Janet Ekstract
NEW YORK- High school students across America are demanding lawmakers take immediate action to create new legislation that would outlaw assault weapons and create much tougher gun laws in the wake of the most recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead and many more injured.
What a majority of students pointed out is this: “An apology is not enough anymore.” When interviewed by the press on February 17 – a group of eight high school students from Parkland, Florida reiterated what is being demanded in nationwide protests – get the guns off the streets.
In light of this devastating and tragic incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a host of parents, educators and students are echoing one mantra: “Enough is Enough.” And it’s not just students in Parkland, Florida who are demanding an end to the continuous string of violent school shootings that rang in since the New Year of 2018. It’s a plethora of very outraged and concerned students, parents and educators from across the country as well as former survivors and parents of victims of previous mass shootings – the most notable Columbine and Sandy Hook.
Last Sunday morning, student survivors of the Florida high school shooting, announced their major endeavor: March for Our Lives – a campaign that promises to be a groundbreaking event when it takes place on March 24 at the nation’s capitol in Washington D.C. – celebrities have already stepped forward with major donations to fund the event.
George and Amal Clooney opened the way to inspire other celebrities with their donation of $500,000 for the anti-gun protests, ideally to be held simultaneously on the same day all across cities in the U.S. Then well known director, Steven Spielberg donated the second round of half a million dollars for the march followed by talk show celebrity and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey who donated the third round of $500,000 to the cause while studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg also donated the same amount.
The celebrities tweeted touching tributes to the student survivors who the Clooneys said have inspired them with their “courage and eloquence,” as Oprah tweeted: “These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”
Student survivors who spoke at a CNN sponsored Town Hall meeting last week, expressed their shock and outrage, making it clear that apologies just won’t cut it anymore. They referred to the start of 2018 as one string of violent school shootings after another.
A clear sense of anger was expressed at the Trump administration and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for paying no more than lip service when it comes to taking concrete and definitive action to put an end to such incidents.
The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten when interviewed by CNN, was asked one simple question: “Could we do better?” Her resounding answer was, “Absolutely, we can do better.” Weingarten outlined the fact that for decades no one has stepped forth to sufficiently tighten regulations regarding assault and other weapons.
A number of people have voiced their opinions on whether teachers should be armed as President Trump suggested and how much tougher school security measures should be put in place to combat the scourge of violent school attacks.
The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization for public schools, is calling for a ‘national day of action’ on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999. This organization is motivating teachers and students to engage in sit-ins, walkouts and marches to protest increasing gun violence in schools. Network for Public Education President, Diane Ravitch and the organization’s executive director, Carol Burns commented in a joint online posting: “The politicians sit on their hands as our children and teachers are murdered in their schools.”
Despite the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 where 20 first graders and six teachers were killed in Newton, Connecticut, Congress failed to once again pass tough gun control legislation.
The fact is that it has been a largely Republican contingent who has been stalling passage of a tougher gun control legislation not the Democrats as the Trump administration keeps emphasizing to a susceptible portion of the American public. Many proponents of a tougher gun control law who also would prefer to see a ban on assault rifles have been stating exactly that – that Republicans are the major stumbling block to pass any reform gun control legislation.
Why? Because it’s a widely known fact that the NRA is a Republican stronghold and they will go to any lengths, according to their opponents, to discredit anyone who disagrees with their political agenda, which is to keep guns in the hands of the American public.
The very vociferous debate centers around a number of gun control issues but most distressing is the fact that the NRA does not oppose open carrying of assault rifles. In the eyes of the logical observer, this is a clear invitation to violence by those who would choose to fire a weapon randomly or use their weapon irresponsibly.
A major fact to note is that previous Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both proposed stricter and much tighter gun laws and controls repeatedly. Their urgent and earnest proposals were ignored despite tragic school shootings, largely due to the giant political lobby of the NRA – as a majority of those opposed to the Republican funded gun organization have also agreed.
Robby Mook, a political commentator and former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, spoke to CNN earlier today about the situation. Weighing in on remarks from NRA spokespeople, Mook’s response was quite clear: “We know their stand and it never changes.” Mook reminded viewers that “the NRA is a political organization,” and because of that it has its own agenda.
A widespread swath of students from a plethora of American high schools are now preparing for the march on Washington to make their voices heard. On March 24, 2018 along with a host of celebrities – the student march campaign organizers, their friends, families and colleagues will make their opposition to the NRA heard and they have warned that the fight for sane gun legislation will not end until a specific plan is voted into legislation.
One of the student survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting and a student spokesperson, Cameron Kasky told the press “We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.”
The most poignant moment so far in this debate were comments made by high school student Emma Gonzalez who accused President Trump and other politicians of accepting political donations from the NRA.
As Gonzalez so eloquently expressed: “If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”
She noted that the president received at least thirty million dollars to his campaign from the NRA.
Perhaps the most heinous miscarriage of justice was the fact that the FBI admitted it was warned multiple times about the mentally unbalanced and violent intentions of the Parkland, Florida shooter, but failed to act on those warnings, the organization admitted.
It also came to light that not one but at least three students who are survivors of the mass shooting, one of them – a much closer friend of the shooter’s immediately discovered over time, the shooter’s violent plans and promptly informed the appropriate authorities.
Yet, once again, the warnings were ignored.
One thing everyone should know for sure: not a single student, parent or educator with a sense of human decency and a sanctity for life would ever agree with the NRA, who insist that everyone should have a right to arm themselves even if that means to the detriment of innocent children and young adults.