We Have Failed Our Youth

By Dan Schmitt | March 23, 2018 |

I, we adults, have failed our society. More tragically, we have failed our children.

Over the past 35 years, there have been thirteen mass shootings in which the killer used an AR-15 with large-capacity magazines. It was the weapon of choice used to slaughter 26 people, mostly 1st graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It was the weapon of choice used to slaughter 58 people at the Las Vegas music festival. It was the weapon of choice used to slaughter 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Most recently, it was the weapon of choice to slaughter 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

And after every one of these senseless tragedies, we offer up our thoughts and prayers, whatever that means. And we talk in agonizing fashion with friends and family members about how awful these tragedies are and how the politicians we elect refuse to do anything about it. And then we go back to our normal lives until the next mass slaughter occurs.

Let me be very clear here - I am not anti-gun. I grew up hunting the fields and forests of north-central Wisconsin. I hunted squirrels and rabbits with a 22-rifle. I hunted ducks and other birds and occasionally deer with my shotgun. I support gun ownership. If you want to have rifles for hunting, have at it. If you want to have handguns in the home for protection (never mind that there’s a plethora of research showing guns in the home are far more likely to kill or injure a loved one than an intruder), have at it.

But no one should possess weapons like an AR-15 and their accompanying large-capacity magazines save our military personnel. Finally, after so many mass killings in our country, people are stepping up and demanding that our politicians pass sane gun laws, and these people are the KIDS! You know, the people we adults have failed for so long.

These kids, led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, really aren’t asking for much. They just want more extensive background checks on gun purchases, and they want semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 and large-capacity magazines banned in our country.

Bringing about sensible gun legislation won’t be easy. For far too long, the NRA leadership has had their hands around the throats of way too many politicians and their substantial financial resources in way too many politicians’ pockets. But it can be done, and we adults must do everything we can to encourage and support these kids. Bottom line here, we adults must get off our asses on the gun safety issue.

So, what can we do? Well, we can begin the journey this Saturday, March 24 by participating in one of hundreds of “March for Our Lives” marches led by student activists across this country. It doesn’t matter if you live in Richmond, Virginia or Corpus Christi, Texas or Dallas, Texas, or Phoenix, Arizona, or Wausau, Wisconsin. There will be a march near you led by kids who care about their safety and their future. So, get out there and march with them. If you live in the Sacramento area, the march begins at 10 a.m. at Crocker Park.

The journey can’t stop Saturday. Across this country, there are local chapters of The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence. Join your local chapter and donate to the cause. If a chapter doesn’t exist in your area, check out organizations that promote gun safety and sane gun laws like Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

An overwhelming number of Americans, 67-percent in one recent poll, said they are in favor of an assault weapons ban, but the NRA controlled politicians won’t take action until you do. So, write, call, or email your Representatives and Senators and let them know you support the kids and the majority of Americans on this issue.  Thanks to the kids, inaction should no longer be an option for us adults. But first, get marching in support of these brave kids Saturday.

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Josie said...

If your child, along with 16 others, were killed by an assault weapon in a matter of seconds, I daresay you would want to see them eliminated. You would make our country a safer place by voting into office those who represent your convictions, regardless of party.

Maybe the children will lead us.

Randy Bekker said...

Getting rid of any gun will not fix anything. If you knew anything about guns you know that 1st. 2nd if you took anytime to understand the most mass shootings you would know it’s a mental health problem. So getting rid of any gun does not address the root cause! So in your mind take all the guns and still you have done nothing to fix the problem except give criminals the right to own a gun and was successful taking guns away from law bidding citizens. It’s a mental health issue, fix that first!

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

I am not sure how or what context your comments are being made Mr. Bekker, but as I read Mr. Schmitt's views, he is not suggesting the banning of guns, just those which are meant for nothing more than mass casualties. An AR 15 has no other purpose than to inflict mass casualties. I cannot recall see a responsible gun owner using such a weapon while duck or deer hunting.

Regarding your comments on mental health, would you rather be in a group of people confronted with a shooter suffering from mental health issues with a six shooter or an AR-15 with a full complement of ammunition? Yes, address mental health access, but why give such people the opportunity to inflict mass death?

Randy Bekker said...

My point was if we put as much energy towards fixing and addressing mental health something would actually get done. Talking about taking the AR-15 or any other gun we have only gone in circles. It has been the dialogue for decades. How is that working to fix the problem, it’s not. The problem still exists an the AR-15 has only been the tool. Taking the tool does nothing to fix the problem, you have to fix the root cause which is mental health.

Tracy said...

Yes, some guns are evil and others are not. It is not the person doing the killing, it's the type of firearm.

The Virgina Tech shooting with 17 dead used a handgun (Glock19), not an AR-15.

It's not the type of firearm, it is the person.
People choose to do evil acts.

Data reported by the United States Secret Service and the United States Department of Education in the “The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative:

76% of school shootings are conducted by white people. 78% of schooling are conducted by people with depression. By the same logic of banning certain firearms, you should make all depressed white people prohibited persons, and put under involuntary commitment until cured of their depressions.

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