Taking matters into their own hands

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Time goes marching on: Another weekend, another protest march.

This most recent one, March for Our Lives, “went viral,” to cap on a saying describing information on social media that spreads more quickly than the speed of light.

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, there was not just nation-wide but world-wide participation in support of American high school kids peacefully protesting in Washington, D.C. Six weeks ago in their Parkland, Florida, high school, a lone shooter with a military-style weapon massacred 17 of their peers and teachers. Those who survived came out of the terror with a noble goal: get to the representatives who have done nothing and convince them to curb the proliferation of guns in this country.

American gun lobbies continue to air the old chestnut that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But the teenagers saw friends and mentors gunned down in front of them on Valentine’s Day. The madness of the act and the dawning awareness that the first time this happened was 19 years ago at a high school in Colorado, before they were born, galvanized them. What had become common in their country was going to come to a screeching halt because they had something to say about their own lives.

They organized a march after getting half-baked responses out of the Florida legislature and the President, even though pleading with them for sensible solutions to the outrageous number of gun deaths in this country. Their message is loud, thoughtful and articulate. They make a legitimate point to the people elected to uphold the Constitution and the constitutions of their states when they say, “Our first constitutional right is to life, not guns.”

The young organizers, many of them too young to vote . . . yet . . . are civilly protesting the legislative bodies of our country who have the power but not the will to save children from being caught in the crosshairs. The teens say again and again that they have no interest in taking away the right to bear arms, which is what the Second Amendment to the American Constitution is about, and which the gun lobbies and their minions never cease bringing up. Many of the teens supporting the march for sense regarding guns are gun owners themselves, hunters and target shooters. All they wanted was a yes or no answer to what they write on their signs: “Do you love guns more than you love your kids?” It seems they’ve gotten the answer, thus the march.

The day of the March for Our Lives in the small Florida town of Punta Gorda, a 17-year-old girl gave an impassioned speech about her mom. “My mom has gray in her hair and hands that that are wrinkled and veiny. She paints her fingernails coral and goes to work . . . as a teacher.” The daughter told the simple story – that her mother is trained to teach, not pull a trigger. She is not educated and hired to be a human shield to her students nor huddle with them in a closet or under her desk to hide from the shooter outside her schoolroom door. She was hired to inspire, not kill.

Some people in positions of what inappropriately is called “leadership” want legislation to arm teachers. A kid marching across the Peace River Bridge in the Punta Gorda protest carried a sign that said, “We need books, not guns.”

With kids and parents and grandparents still milling around, hugging one another and weeping after the march, a man with a megaphone began shouting, “You need guns to protect you. We have guns in airports and police stations and in Congress! Lock down the schools like we do our banks. [?] Legislation against guns is stupid!”

I asked a tall young student what his response to that was, and he said, “Oh, no response. He has a right to say what he needs to say. We just don’t engage.”

A teenage girl added, “Adults don’t seem to get it. We’re not trying to make enemies. We’re not trying to take away people’s guns. We’re just pushing for a logical solution. We’re trying to save our lives.”
~~~~~
On a final note, this just in, a wire(less) photo from the Jefferson, Iowa Maple Street March for Our Lives:
Tagline: Jack Lewis and Denise O’Brien of North Maple in Jefferson stand ready to march on Saturday, March 24, in support of the world-wide March for Our Lives.

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