Yet another school shooting, but this time closer to home in Broward County, Florida. Television viewers are horrified at the film footage of children with raised arms running in a line from the school, of parents near hysterical as they search for their children, of law enforcement agents dashing about with raised rifles on a school campus; and of the 17 body bags.
The collective response of our lawmakers? “Ho-hum. You’ve got to understand that although it’s tragic, nothing can be done because we don’t want to politicize this tragedy.”
But of course there IS something they can do, and yes it is time to politicize these killings. It’s time to take on the National Rifle Association and to impose strict gun control laws. The Second Amendment is no defense for this lack of action because there is no constitutional right (think speech, religion, due process, press freedom, and yes the right to bear arms) that is absolute. Every right exists with limits (think libel laws, polygamy laws, age of majority laws, truth in advertising laws, and so on.) Every right is balanced by other rights; every right must be interpreted for the current time; and every right comes with responsibilities. If the Second Amendment must be viewed in absolutist terms, then it’s time to repeal it.
This Wild West gun culture is a death culture that is scarring and scaring the hell out of our children.
I grew up in the age of “duck and cover;” that is, when schools impressed on us the very real possibility of a nuclear attack by drilling us to run into the hallways and cower in a turtle posture until an all clear signal. So, one minute we are reading The Poky Little Puppy, and in the next, at the sound of an alarm, we are huddled on the floor waiting for either death or the all clear signal.
On the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I was in second grade and already well-versed in the Soviet threat to our survival. On the PA system, our Principal announced that the President had been shot and that our country was at risk of attack. School was canceled for the day, and we were told to run home as fast as we could, (no buses then; no caravan of parents waiting in cars).
What followed was a Brian De Palma-like slow-motion film segment of school doors opening to release a flood of screaming bobby-socked children who ran down the road from our school with lunch boxes and book bags flagging behind them. This phalanx then suddenly scattered as children fled in the various directions that lead to their homes.
The cluster of children from my street ran together and took to Pataki’s orchard, then ran through fields and wooded areas rather than risk being “captured” on the road by Soviet tanks. We ducked and covered at the sight of any airplane as we ran for our lives.
It was terrifying.
Today we have created a culture where students live with the real possibility of violence right in their place of learning–settings that should always be first and foremost safe places. So far in 2018, there have been 18 school shootings in the 45 days of 2018. (And that’s just the school shootings.) Isn’t that shocking?
Shouldn’t it shock us out of complacency that 438 people have been shot and 138 killed at schools since the Sandy Hook shootings of 2012? (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/15/us/school-shootings-sandy-hook-parkland.html)
Shouldn’t that rattle our political representatives to do something in response?
Isn’t it time to politicize (i.e., to pass legislation to address) these tragic moments?
So once you finish reading this, contact your representative of choice and rattle them: “Enough! DO SOMETHING!”