Every time there has been a school shooting in the past, it seems that we went from “thoughts and prayers” to “it’s too soon to talk about it” to “stop using this as a political issue.”
Time passes and nothing ever happens.
But after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, these kids from Parkland stood up and said it’s time to do something — now! They grabbed the attention of the country and led conversations, protests, and marches. Enough was enough.
Unfortunately, we live in a country now where we attack others rather than try to understand. The discourse around these kids has been nothing short of embarrassing. Calling them paid actors, referencing Tide pods, asking who is paying for the marches, photo-shopping leaders, and even suggesting they learn CPR.
NBC reported that rocker Jesse Hughes — the Eagles of Death Metal singer who survived the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris —“criticize(d) Parkland student leader Emma Gonzalez as ‘the awful face of treason’ and a ‘survivor of nothing.’”
Of course, it’s all about changing the subject. No longer able to defend this disturbing part of American culture and its inexcusable lack of action, NRA supporters have resorted to personal attacks on these teenagers. Those on the right, particularly the alt-right, attack them relentlessly on social media. Some suggest they are too young to have an opinion. I would argue that when they have been a victim of a mass shooting — running for their lives, watching their friends get slaughtered — then they sure as hell get to have an opinion.
You can disagree with those who feel we need better gun control without acting like an insensitive imbecile. Bullets kill conservatives and liberals, blacks and whites, Christians and Muslims, and both the rich and poor. Why does a sensible question about gun control infuriate those on the right? At least the congressmen and congresswomen who receive large amounts of NRA contributions have a financial motive to sit on their hands. But what about everyone else?
The Second Amendment is not going away, ever. One reasonable starting point in the discussion of gun control is to stop misstating the issue. What these kids and most reasonable people want to discuss is how to keep guns out of the hands of those who may use them to kill others. An Internet meme said it perfectly: “When you strip away all the partisanship, the simple fact is kids are dying and they’d rather not. They are asking for help. From adults. That’s it.”
The arguments, such as the “what abouts,” are stupid and irrelevant. What about knives? What about cars? In fact, when you look at the arguments made by those on the right, they run the full spectrum of desperation from straw man arguments to appeals to ignorance, false dichotomies, slippery slopes, and red herrings. “Those kids should be in school. Liberals are communists.” They are futile attempts to justify their cognitive dissonance.
From polls to protests, how much clearer does the American public need to be before our legislators do something? Americans simply want to discuss the availability and ease in which the wrong people obtain assault weapons, whether it is banning them, instilling age restrictions, or improving background checks.
So enough is enough. But the “enough” is not just the lack of congressional action on gun control, it is also enough of the unyielding attacks on these students.
Stand-up comedian Todd Hollowman tweeted, “Imagine being the kind of person who is more outraged at kids walking out of school in protest than at kids being carried out of school in body bags.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have to imagine.
Rob Swindell is a lifelong Lorain County resident offering his opinions on politics, science, and social issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.