This could be the back-to-school list of the future: paper and pencils—check; boxes of tissue (because schools are underfunded and teachers can’t keep paying out of their own pockets for your children’s sniffle snuffers)—check; body armor in the appropriate size—check.
Whoa. What was that last one? Body armor for kindergartners? It should make every one of us outraged that in schools across the country active shooter drills have become as common as fire drills. What to do when an armed maniac strolls down your school hallway should never even be in a five-year-old’s skill set. And yet here we are today teaching our little ones to hunker down, remain silent and out of sight, and, if possible, “build a fort to keep the dangerous people out.”
As the Washington Post recently noted, “This is America in 2019, where mass shootings have become so commonplace that consumers are buying bulletproof backpacks, clipboards, even three-ring binder inserts, that they hope will protect them from gunfire. Retailers across the country say they have seen growing demand for bullet-resistant products for children—as well as for doctors, teachers, flight attendants, and taxi drivers—giving rise to an industry of ballistic goods for everyday Americans, though there is little evidence the products are actually effective.”
Fear and a sense of helplessness are irrevocably changing our country and the lives of our children. What will be the psychological damage? Are we inadvertently nurturing more fear-generated violence?
If this country can never bring itself to controlling guns, then it should at least take responsibility for them. That means, like cars and drivers, guns should be registered and gun owners should be licensed, with all the requirements of renewal and good behavior to keep that license. Courts and law enforcement should be diligent in keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, the criminal, and the violent.
After Parkland, El Paso, Dayton, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Columbine, Sandy Hook (this list is growing heartbreakingly long), there is no excuse for inaction. It is time to stop hiding behind the Second Amendment.
Our leaders can strengthen background checks. They can pass effective red flag laws that permit the removal of firearms from people who may present a danger to others or themselves. They can repeal the Dickey amendment, a law pushed through by the National Rifle Association in 1996 that prevents federal funds from being used to “advance or promote gun control.” They can close the gun show loophole so private sales of firearms require a background check. They can ban military-style assault weapons and bump stocks, which make weapons virtually automatic. They can pass “no fly, no buy,” so suspected terrorists can’t purchase guns.
They are not powerless.
Neither are we.
So, lawmakers, here’s a message for you: Keep your condolences and prayers. Until you DO SOMETHING about gun reform, they are worthless and hypocritical. You have a responsibility to take responsibility.
As for parents and grandparents, add this to your back-to-school list: “I will NOT vote for or support (yes, that’s you, retailers) anyone who chooses power, money, and guns over the lives of my children.” Check.