Posts Tagged ‘NRA’

I stand with students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

February 22, 2018

17 dead.png

I have cried watching the news only a few times. Once when a firefighter pulled a limp little blond boy in Oshkosh overalls from under the ice who looked just like my three year old. The fragility of life – of family – overwhelmed me. I cried. Thankfully the firefighters revived the boy.

My kids have grown, I changed careers and was a new teacher when Sandy Hook happened. I got home from school that day and turned on the news. I tried to imagine the awesome responsibility Victoria Leigh Soto, a teacher, assumed by throwing herself between a gunman and her first graders. Could I do that? Would I try to save my eighth graders? I thought about my classroom, students crammed in a corner, and pictured the terror on their faces. I began to cry not knowing what I would do facing evil when some of my students came to my door caroling “Joy to the World.” I wanted to hug them for pushing back the terror coming from my television with their self-conscience performance to my front steps, but I didn’t. I gave them each handfuls of candy, because that’s what you do.

Six years later we practice active shooter scenarios at school, we hold anti-bullying seminars for students and teachers, and we barely notice when another school attack happens. We have become inoculated from the shock. I watched the news and remarked to my wife how well spoken and poised the students from Parkland, Florida were in the immediate aftermath. These were not the Tide-Pod eating slackers that TV loves to show us. They stayed focused, kept speaking out brilliantly and got the president’s ear enough to be invited to a White House listening session.

There eighteen year old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Samuel Zeif described the day in Parkland when 17 people were murdered, texting what he thought were his last words to his family. He pleaded to the president “let’s never let this happen again. Please. Please.” And I cried with him.

It should never have come to this. “How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?” I cried with him. How come we didn’t stop this? We – the adults, the moms and dads, the teachers, the police – didn’t stop this because we are not unified in our will. We are too jaded, shrugging in resignation that nothing will change, and sending out “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook.  We did nothing because we could not agree on anything – Ban assault weapons – what’s an “assault weapon”? Mental health check-ups – who decides you’re crazy? Arm everybody – have you met everybody?

“We call BS!” Emma Gonzales spoke with the clarity of unjaded youth whose innocence was murdered along her classmates and a few more teachers who placed themselves between bullets and students. She and the thousands of young voices are speaking together demanding we all see the obvious – their lives are more valuable than a dogmatic reading of the 2nd amendment. There is no nuance in this argument. She spoke clearly. Cameron Kasky, another Parkland high school student, demanded in the name of seventeen dead classmates that his senator, Marco Rubio, not accept money from the NRA and he pressed until he got an answer – not the one he wanted, but not the evasive sound bite either. Seventeen year old witness to this murder, David Hogg, said, “We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done” and even after being accused of being a Soros paid actor hasn’t “lost hope in America.”

These students bring me hope. They will take action because they have to – we adults have been paralyzed in our partisan bickering for too long. Is it too soon to cite Isaiah 11:6? “Wolves will live with lambs. Leopards will lie down with goats. Calves, young lions, and year-old lambs will be together, and little children will lead them.”

I stand with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.


Can We Talk?

July 25, 2012

image from KDVR

If this were only a joke. A man walks into a movie theater – armed with an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and handguns and his home was booby-trapped with a trip wire, explosives and unknown liquids that took a day to disarm and I’m called partisan and disingenuous when I say it is pure evil and we should look into how he was able to come by this cache with the thought of preventing the unthinkable in the future.

The horror of the shootings in Aurora is obvious yet so many talking heads and op-ed writers want us to stay focused only on the individual stories of heroism, cowardice and how the families and friends will be changed. Mention that the event puts into focus difficult issues for America and you get shot down for “politicizing” the calamity. Why is it wrong to discuss the consequences of a tragedy?

I am told now is not time for that conversation. We need to respect the victims’ families and let them mourn in peace. An online friend mentioned a story he read about the potential bankruptcy faced by one of the victims who is uninsured and can’t pay the medical bills. He commented that one injustice was being compounded by another. He was pounced upon for “pushing his liberal agenda.” I can’t help thinking that part of this insanity is not only the shooting, but the price many of these victims will be paying in an emotional and financial aftermath. Shouldn’t we mitigate their pain by making it clear that we, all Americans, will help them with the costs of the medical care? Luckily some have started a fund for this, but not everyone is a Blanche DuBois who can depend on the kindness of strangers.

Why shouldn’t we look at the rules that allowed the legal purchase of these weapons? Rules are important. The Ten Commandments wouldn’t be necessary if folks didn’t kill, covet or take the Lord’s name in vain. No one needs rules or laws until someone is hurt. Every business I’ve been involved with only wrote new policies in the wake of some unforeseen stupidity or situation and it is our outrage that gives us the energy to focus. So when a shooting occurs in a movie theater, school or strip mall and the conversation turns to preventing or minimizing the losses the energy is high and the answer is obvious. We need new rules (or enforcement of existing ones) to prevent certain weapons from getting into the hands of certain people. No one disputes this, not even the NRA. The devil is in the details; the debate is what weapons and which people. This, however, is the fearful slippery slope for the NRA, so we are told to respect the families and let them mourn. Meanwhile our resolve dissipates.

Too bad. If we were to have that conversation and acted with resolve we might reduce or prevent the next Aurora, Columbine or Virginia Tech massacre. The downside might be the headache for the NRA, but no worries – that preexisting condition must be covered under the Affordable Care Act in 2014. There I go again – “politicizing.”