Targets no more
It started as a local protest against yet another senseless, tragic school shooting. It mushroomed into a nation-wide student walkout, which crossed borders into Canada and rocketed around the world. Wednesday’s demonstrations by tens of thousands of students across the globe was remarkable.
It sends a message that students are not going to take it anymore. They are refusing to remain defenceless pawns in a losing battle over gun control. The walkouts and demonstrations signaled that a new and powerful force is mobilizing that can lead positive change in society.
In Florida, the scene of the latest massacre where a single shooter killed 17 students and staff members last month, you must be 21-years-old to buy booze in a state which has zero tolerance alcohol laws for minors caught driving. Yet, 18-year-olds can legally purchase lethal assault rifles.
Students are tired of being the next targets of serial killers while lawmakers sit idly by and do nothing — except of course send along their thoughts and prayers and mouth the empty mantra that now is not the time to discuss gun control. The attack in Florida was the 17th school shooting in the U.S. within the first 45 days of 2018, so when is a good time?
Students say the time is now. Politicians, including President Donald Trump, were told their thoughts and prayers were useless and would not stop the slaughter. Wednesday’s march sought sensible changes from lawmakers: Ban assault weapons, require universal background checks before gun sales and pass a gun violence restraining law.
Student outage and passionate interviews got immediate results. They debated powerful politicians and the National Rifle Association (NRA). They got a meeting in the White House where President Trump appeared sympathetic; they pressured Florida lawmakers to pass a tougher gun law; and they organized a massive walkout. Major companies stopped selling assault rifles or restricted their sale while corporate deals with the NRA were voided. They challenged candidates to reject NRA campaign donations — so-called blood money.
This is what students helped accomplish in mere days. And what got lawmakers to finally pay attention? It was simple really — the ultimate power of the ballot box. Many student organizers will be able to vote in this fall’s mid-term elections, and many more in the next general election. Nervous and anguished parents will support their children. It’s a powerful voting block which will grow and grow.
Last year saw the #MeToo Movement explode as women mobilized across America and around the world to protest gender inequality and exploitation. Many powerful men, who thought themselves immune, were brought down. Women flexed their power like never before.
The same opportunity awaits these young people. If they can curb guns today, what other momentous deeds can be accomplished tomorrow? This next generation is determined not to fail. They vow to clean up the mess left by adults and make this world a safer place. They promise, “we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
Let’s hope they are right.