Would Congress act if Park­land had been a plane crash in­stead?

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY JACLYN CORIN New York Times Jaclyn Corin, a founder of March For Our Lives, is a se­nior at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School.

When I ar­rived at school on Feb. 14, 2018, like any ju­nior, I was mostly caught up in Valen­tine’s Day chat­ter and events. But that all changed in the space of a few min­utes that af­ter­noon when a gun­man opened fire on my class­mates and my teach­ers, killing 17 of them and in­jur­ing just as many.

The fa­mil­iar images of stu­dents flee­ing their school as SWAT teams en­tered, of par­ents wait­ing by the perime­ter des­per­ately pray­ing to get their kids back, were now my re­al­ity. They were my class­mates and friends, too many of whom never came home.

After the shoot­ing, my friends at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School and I de­cided we couldn’t sit by as school shoot­ings and gun vi­o­lence be­came a nor­mal part of life in Amer­ica. We were de­ter­mined to turn an act of vi­o­lence into a move­ment, to do ev­ery­thing we could to send a pow­er­ful mes­sage to the coun­try and to Wash­ing­ton.

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not re­minded of the shoot­ing. When I hear a siren or fire­works, it takes me back to that hor­rific af­ter­noon.

Yet our com­mu­nity isn’t alone in its tragedy. In 2017, nearly 40,000 Amer­i­cans died as a re­sult of guns, an av­er­age of 109 peo­ple a day. And ac­cord­ing to a tally from Ed­u­ca­tion Week, there were 24 school shoot­ings that re­sulted in gun-re­lated deaths or in­juries in 2018 alone.

While sev­eral states have taken pos­i­tive leg­isla­tive mea­sures in re­sponse, there have been zero bi­par­ti­san in­ves­ti­ga­tions or new laws from Congress.

Not a sin­gle fed­eral law has been passed since the Sandy Hook mas­sacre in 2012 to ad­dress the cri­sis of school shoot­ings. This year could be dif­fer­ent – but only if we or­ga­nize and in­sist on it.

Last week, Congress held its first hear­ing on gun vi­o­lence preven­tion since 2011. The House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is poised to ap­prove a bi­par­ti­san bill to re­quir­ing back­ground checks for all gun pur­chases. How­ever, it’s also likely this bill won’t get a hear­ing, let alone a vote, in the Se­nate.

That cham­ber’s ma­jor­ity leader, Mitch McCon­nell, needs to ex­plain to all of us who have sur- vived a shoot­ing or lost some­one to gun vi­o­lence why the Se­nate won’t even vote on such a bill even though there’s been over half a mil­lion gun deaths since 2000, the year I was born.

And Amer­i­cans should truly reckon with why this epi­demic of gun deaths is treated so dif­fer­ently from any other health cri­sis in our coun­try.

Imag­ine for a mo­ment that all these gun deaths were caused by some­thing else widely feared: air­plane crashes. There’s no uni­verse in which we wouldn’t see it as a na­tional emer­gency wor­thy of our un­di­vided at­ten­tion.

In fact, 2017 was a re­mark­able year in avi­a­tion. No one died in a com­mer­cial air­plane crash, mean­ing it was safer for me to fly than it was for me to go to high school. It would take hun­dreds of com­pletely full Boe­ing 737 flights crash­ing with­out sur­vivors to to­tal the num­ber of peo­ple who died by guns in Amer­ica in just 2017.

If even a hand­ful of such crashes oc­curred, the gov­ern­ment would de­clare a na­tional emer­gency. All 737s would be grounded, there would be an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion cre­ated to in­ves­ti­gate the cri­sis, and Boe­ing would be called be­fore Congress to an­swer for its fail­ures.

So why then don’t more than 30,000 gun deaths in a year rise to the level of a na­tional cri­sis?

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