We have watched, in horror, as yet another mass shooting occurred in an American grade school. Without doubt, gun violence is one of the most unrelenting public health issues we face today. In the absence of adult leadership and consensus on how to address this issue, impacted students around the country have stepped up to say they have had enough. The question remains: Is anybody listening?
Maybe. Delta Airlines announced they would end its discount program for National Rifle Association members. Other airlines, and companies from the rental car, insurance, and banking industries have followed suit. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that they were ending sales of all assault-style rifles, will stop selling high-capacity magazines, and no longer sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws.
Speaking of laws, congressional lawmakers split along the usual party lines when it came to action to prevent another scene like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. As House Speaker Paul Ryan told people to “take a breath and collect the facts,” there were young people whose breathless bodies laid in morgues. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent prayers but not much else by way of a solution.
But something is different this time. Larger numbers of citizens have come to the table to demand change and are taking their messages to the street. On March 14th, Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, is planning a school walkout. Students are encouraged to take 17 minutes, one minute for each of the people killed in the Parkland shooting, out of their school day. It’s catching on. Walkouts are planned around the country.
On March 24th, student survivors of the Florida school shooting are planning to march in Washington, D.C. to demand stricter gun laws in an effort to prevent others from dying in a mass shooting. And on April 20th, the anniversary of the Columbine shootings, demonstrations are planned around the country to have students walk out of schools or miss school that day to march to the offices of elected officials at 11 a.m. Colorado time.
In response to the calls for action, Donald Trump is suggesting that the nation arm between 20-40% of our school’s teachers. Ironically, on February 28th, an armed Georgia high school teacher locked himself in his classroom and then fired a single gunshot when the principal tried to unlock the door. The students had to be removed from the school, while officers rushed in to contain the situation.
It is for these very reasons that Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature are calling on Governor Scott Walker and our Republican colleagues to hold a special session on legislation to deal with Gun violence in schools. I believe you can support 2nd Amendment rights and work to ensure that Wisconsin families feel safe in schools, church or elsewhere. I hear and want action for what the children are saying!