‘We call BS’
Out of the “American carnage” of the latest mass school shooting in the United States, this time in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a new generation of voices has emerged: grieving, outraged, determined, and not taking No for an answer.
The voices belong to the students who survived the massacre — with a death toll of 17 students and staff members, now the deadliest high school shooting in US history, eclipsing the Columbine High School catastrophe in 1999.
The survivors remain in shock, continue to attend wakes and funerals and memorials, and have started to see specialists in post-traumatic stress disorder.
But they have also been extraordinarily courageous and remarkably articulate in calling out the dysfunctional politics in the United States which makes it illegal for a 17-year-old to buy beer but perfectly legal for a 17-year-old to buy assault rifles.
And they are starting something with the potential to change American society.
First, they are talking aloud, and even talking back.
One of the new voices is Emma Gonzalez, a senior student at Stoneman Douglas. In an angry, soaring, viral speech last Saturday, she even dared to call out Donald Trump.
“There is one tweet I would like to call attention to. ‘So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities again and again.’ We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter … We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife.”
She hit the bull’s-eye. Because that is exactly the point: A mentally disturbed person cannot kill 17 students in one school, or XX revellers in one Las Vegas concert, with a knife.
But because assault rifles can be purchased most anywhere in the
United States with ease, the risk is multiplied by the number of bullets in the magazine, fed by so-called bump fire stocks.
Second, the students are organizing, and organizing with other groups. At least three major protests are in the works:
The Women’s March Youth Empower group is calling for a National School Walkout on March 14 — with students, teachers, parents, and other concerned citizens encouraged to leave the classrooms and schools for 17 minutes (to remember the 17 victims of the Florida school shooting).
As the group explained on its website: “Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.”
A loose coalition of activists, including survivors from the Stoneman Douglas school, is planning a protest right in Washington called “March For Our Lives.” The event website says: “The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.”
And a former student in Connecticut who lived near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 young children and six staff members were killed in 2012, is organizing a “National High School Walkout” on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
There may be more walkouts, as well as other forms of organized political action. Gonzalez reflected the seething discontent, as well as the resolute determination of the survivors to do something, now, in the face of the enormous lobby of the notorious National Rifle Association (NRA). She ended her speech with a raw call to action.
“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.”
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