When “we”, this old generation facing the exit door, were coming up, we dealt with a lot of hard issues. There was an unnecessary and illegal war; boys, our classmates, dying. If not already aware, and many northerners had not learned the hard way, our country was infested with racial injustice. How could anyone watch marchers mowed down by high pressure water hoses, attacked by dogs and white police men, and not make an opinion?
We were young then, and idealistic. We thought we were invincible. We protested. We marched. We “sat-in”. We went to Canada. We were supported, by family and friends. If not by family, by friends. We had such an idealistic hope of peace and love and flowers in gun barrels. There were signs of hope. A flower in a National Guardsman’s gun barrel. Tiananmen Square.
Though we were sidetracked by mortgages and children and carpooling, we still worked for and voted to end racial injustice, poverty, restore voting rights. I was wondering which one tipped the NRA and the bigots? But, who cares what it was, or that it is. It must end.
Now we are left with addressing violence by guns, mass shootings of innocents, unsuspecting gatherings of happy people, halls of school students, from the wrong end. Instead of “One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” we have one nation, fragmented. We are impoverished, in wealth, in education, in skill, in spirit.
The hope of the sixties was swept away, less by complacency than chicanery. My brothers’ NRA taught them sportsmanship and shooting skills. The political turmoil of the sixties, assassinations, shootings, led to gun legislation, limiting, for instance, sale of machine guns. NRA leadership felt it was acceptable to sportsmen. The young turks did not. Sound familiar? In a surprise committee move, new hardliners took over operation of the NRA in the course of several hours of an annual meeting.
My finger pointing and rant changes nothing. The fact remains, on an average day nearly one hundred people in this country die from gun violence, and two more are injured. Common sense gun legislation and administration is needed to save lives.
Students should not die by bullets. Concert goers should not die by bullets. Children. Lovers. Neighborhood antagonists. No person should die from gunshots. There is no need to end gun ownership, no matter one’s perception of the Second Constitutional Amendment. But, I believe military weapons do not belong under civilian control, guns modified to shoot more bullets, faster, do not belong in civilian hands. All current forms of gun ownership restriction should be enforced.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have an extraordinary right to engage in an act of civil disobedience by walking out of their school on March 14th, in respect of the seventeen people murdered in their halls by another gunman. As do students in every school in this country.