School shootings remedy: organize

In response to the latest horrific school shooting, President Trump declared our nation must give “highly adept” teachers a bonus for carrying concealed weapons at school so they can defend their students against a mass shooter armed with an assault weapon.

The idea is absurd on its face. We aren’t living in an action movie with teachers hiding their superhero capes in classroom closets. The deaths in Parkland are real, and the armed deputy who remained outside the building during the murders saved no one. In the chaos and confusion of a crisis, no one knows how they’ll react, and more guns will likely lead to more violence.

Facing an intense backlash, the president then switched to talking about increasing the minimum age to buy assault weapons from 18 to 21, a baby step towards a much better solution, banning them altogether as more civilized nations have already done. But after lunch with NRA leaders, he was back to arming school staff. A few days later, he went on TV and endorsed a host of gun control provisions to the horror of GOP leaders.

Meanwhile, the deep wound to the nation’s soul continues to fester. The 17 teachers and students who were murdered continue to be mourned, their senseless deaths added to hundreds of others killed for no reason at a place where their personal safety should have been assured.

As students organize the #NeverAgain movement, demanding action to save their very lives, they are learning hard political lessons about politicians who choose to embrace the NRA’s strict demands that nothing about gun rights ever changes. In Tallahassee, students cried when the Florida House of Representatives refused along party lines to even discuss a bill to ban assault rifles. Anthony Lopez, a student who survived the massacre and traveled by bus for seven hours to be present for the vote, said, “That’s infuriating. They’re acting inhuman. The one fear we have is that nothing will change.”

But it’s going to take a miracle to get Congress to ban bump-stocks and improve background checks, even though there is widespread support from the public.

As students nationwide prepare for protests, Nevada school authorities are warning of the consequences they will face. Las Vegas officials said, “If a student chooses to walk out they will be ineligible to participate in any athletics or extracurricular activities (for that day).” Administrators were urged to think about ways they could “potentially thwart a walkout.”

In Washoe County, school officials are taking a slightly more enlightened approach, encouraging administrators to “organize school-wide events to provide meaningful engagement” on the day of the national protest, although they too plan to mark students as tardy or absent should they choose to walk out.

It seems unlikely that these consequences will deter students demanding change. Instead, the walk-outs will become part of our national history of student protest. Many teens are experiencing political activism for the first time, and as they approach voting age, their power to enact change at the ballot box will undoubtedly cause politicians to take notice.

“People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control, and we can respect that,” said Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Parkland shooting. “Here’s the time: March 24. In every single city, we are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives. This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats. This is about the adults. We feel neglected. At this point, you’re either with us or you’re against us.”

I’m with you, Cameron, and so are millions of parents who want their kids to survive another day at school, at a movie theater, at a mall. Take the tardy proudly and speak your truth to power.