Editorial: They spoke. But are our leaders listening?

03/31/2018 6:00 AM |

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., and across America to protest the nation’s gun laws. Among those who spoke before the enormous crowds were survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. 

On Feb. 14, a 19-year-old who could not legally buy a six-pack of beer in Florida walked unimpeded into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. With a legally purchased AR-15, and a cursory background check successfully behind him, Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 students and staff members and wounded 17 others with the kind of speed and ferocity a semiautomatic weapon can unleash. There were seven 14-year-olds among the dead.

The survivors of this massacre were among the eloquent speakers at the Washington rally, who both demanded action for stricter gun laws, but also urged the thousands before them to register and vote and to effect real change through the ballot box.

“Welcome to the revolution,” one of the speakers said.

That’s just what is going on in this country right now. This demand by millions of Americans for fundamental, and utterly common sense, changes in our gun laws, somehow did not arise in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

On that day, which will live in infamy, 20-year old Adam Lanza, who first killed his mother at their home, murdered 20 six- and seven-year-old children, along with six adults. Repeat these words today as you go about your business: 20 six- and seven-year-olds.

With so many of the nation’s elected officials deeply enthralled by lavish contributions from the National Rifle Association, those who gathered across the country are all but spitting in the faces of officials who put their campaign coffers ahead of the interests of Americans trying to protect themselves and their children.

Common sense gun laws should protect all of us while preserving the rights of hunters to enjoy their sport. No one hunts with a semiautomatic weapon. Hunters should be the first in line demanding that weapons of mass destruction be confined to the military.

Beyond that, of course, no 19-year-old should be able to buy any weapon. If a teenager wants to play around with a semiautomatic weapon, he or she should enlist in the military.

A gun background check should take more than a few minutes. It is beyond all understanding why a 2016 bill that would have prevented people who are on the nation’s terror watch list from buying weapons failed to pass.

David Hogg, who survived the Parkland massacre, said this to the huge crowds in Washington: “We are going to make this a voting issue. We are going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we say, ‘No more.’ And to those politicians supported by the NRA, that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your résumés ready.”

Another Parkland survivor, Cameron Kasky, read aloud the names of the victims, wishing one of them, who would have turned 18 next month, a happy birthday. He said: “My generation — having spent our entire lives seeing mass shooting after mass shooting — has learned that our voices are powerful and our votes matter … We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been forced into and create a better world for the generations to come.”

Some supporters of unrestricted gun rights argue that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Yes, people with guns kill people.

But why do we make it so easy for them?

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