Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week, students across the country have mobilized to demand changes to American gun laws to make their schools safer. The obvious issue is the proliferation of assault rifles in this country, the ease with which one can obtain one and their effectiveness in inflicting carnage.
Monday, students in Washington, D.C., protested by staging a three-minute lie-in in front of the White House – infamous for another kind of “lying” the past year. Students from Parkland have announced a March 24 march on Washington to urge passage of gun control legislation. Other students across the country are planning 17-minute walk-outs.
The Parkland students, who lost 17 friends and teachers (with another 14 wounded), have ignored the standard call from Guns Over People shills to not discuss gun control issues in the wake of mass shootings – as if we ever get a break from such horrific news. In fact, the Parkland students denounced the hollow “thoughts and prayers” of Republicans, whose predictable responses to such tragedies never include any actions to even try to prevent the next mass-shooting before lining up at the trough of the National Rifle Association for their next course of campaign contributions.
President Trump is reportedly open to enhancing the background check system for gun purchasers. But, that’s this week. The budget he submitted to Congress last week called for cutting $12 million from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Then, too, the NRA contributed $30 million in one form or another to his 2016 campaign. Thursday, the president’s official comments on the Parkland shooting – which did not mention gun violence – suggested concentrating prevention efforts on mental health and school safety.
But, the Associated Press reports, “Trump’s latest budget would slash the major source of public funds for mental health treatment, the Medicaid programs serving more than 70 million low-income and disabled people. The budget also calls for a 36 percent cut to an Education Department grant program that supports safer schools, reducing it by $25 million.”
Trumpista Florida Gov. Rick Scott was first to criticize the FBI’s failure to act on tips that the teen killer posed a threat. Scott demanded the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray for a procedural failure that is in no way part of a director’s everyday oversight. Perhaps the governor, who spends enough time shaving daily to shave his head, could pause in front of his mirror and ask himself what he had done since June 12, 2016, to make his state safer. Twenty months earlier, another heavily-armed hater killed 49 people and wounded 58 at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. If any resignations due to inaction are in order,…. There are people who think the mentally ill should be able to buy assault rifles, but most folks think background checks reasonable.
Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford told Meet the Press Sunday that he favored better background checks, but he opposed making assault rifles harder to purchase than other firearms. Louis Klarevas of UMass Boston, defining a “gun massacre” as an incident claiming at least six lives, shows that from 1994 to 2004, when the assault weapon ban was in place, the number of such incidents compared to 1984-1994 dropped from 19 to 12, with the fatalities falling from 155 to 89. For the period 2004-2014, after the assault weapons ban lapsed, the number of incidents jumped to 34, deaths rose to 302, as reported by the Washington Post and Statista: The Statistics Portal.
The students are right to call out the hypocrisy of the “thoughts and prayers” crowd. But, their honesty, clarity and idealism, while charming and inspiring, will soon run up against establishment walls more impenetrable than Scaredy Scott Pruitt’s cone of silence in his EPA office.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik reports that the NRA and the NRA Institute for Legislative Actions donated $54 million in 2016 to protect gun manufacturers. In 2015, he says, the NRA contributed $37 million to 54 senators who voted “against a measure prohibiting people on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying guns.”
Students want safer schools. But, their needs will always be superseded by greed: the greed of industries who pollute to profit; the greed of the military/industrial complex that sucks money out of social and safety-net programs; the greed of Oklahoma’s petroleum industry and its lackeys, who would bankrupt the state and destroy public education for an extra nickel and, in this case, by Greed’s Own Party’s eagerness to rake in NRA money.
Children’s Crusades do not end well.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)
“Thoughts and prayers” are just hot air
rising and dissipating
into the muting atmosphere.
Actions speak louder than words;
your idleness defines you.
Your speechificating lies
only compound your disgrace.