In The Aftermath of Another School Shooting, Teenagers Are The Moral Voice of America

Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, 

Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, 

So, maybe it will come down to the teenagers. Perhaps they are the only ones who have a fighting chance to break the NRA’s stranglehold on our society, just as it was only the teenagers of my generation who had a fighting chance to bring the Vietnam War to an end.

“War is not healthy for children and other living things,” went one of the popular slogans of my youth. My hippie friends may have been naïve, unemployed, and in desperate need of a shower, but they were not wrong about that, just as today’s teenagers are not wrong about the sickness at the core of America, our rampant gun culture enabled by one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history.  

The Vietnam War was ugly beyond our imagination to conceive, immoral at its core, and utterly senseless. It was also something that adults didn’t care enough about to try to stop. It was up to us.

By the way, I use the word “us” loosely. I was seven when JFK was assassinated, nine when President Johnson received nearly unanimous consent from Congress to escalate the war, and 13 when Woodstock took place. But I was old enough to be aware of the looming threat that my government posed to my life.

I was in the final year (1972) of the draft lottery. By then, thanks to the anti-war movement, fewer of us were being ordered to serve. Still, I received a draft card, a symbol that my government might try to compel me to fly to Southeast Asia and risk my life for nothing.

Now, after yet another gruesome school shooting, we are finally hearing from the friends of the victims, the teenagers whose lives are at risk on the way to math class. Adults have failed at protecting them, so they are taking matters into their own hands.

The unspeakable grief of the survivors has turned to outrage and they are placing the blame exactly where it belongs, on the politicians who are owned by the NRA and speak sanctimoniously about our God-given right to own AR-15s.

Trump, a man with no moral core and incapable of empathy, is unelectable without the support of gun fetishists. When accepting the endorsement of the NRA, he called it “a fantastic honor,” before promising his adoring crowd, “We’re getting rid of gun free zones.” The president who proclaimed that he would put an end to “American carnage” has, in fact, enabled it. And he is hardly the only one.

Marco Rubio has received over three million dollars in payoffs from the NRA, but not to worry, he is “praying for all the victims.”  Is it too much to say that there is blood on his hands? I don’t think so. Rubio was a midwife of our sick gun culture, as was John McCain and Joni Ernst and Ted Cruz, and the list goes on and on. Yes, there is blood on their hands, just as there is blood on the hands of Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito, who decided that the Second Amendment, which is as arcane as the Third Amendment, guarantees the individual right of gun ownership. Their reckless judicial activism has led us to where we are now. And where is that exactly?

A candidate for congress in Kansas is giving away an AR-15 as a campaign stunt. Third-graders in Missouri are selling raffle tickets for an AR-15 as a fundraiser for their baseball team, and their coach thinks the surrounding controversy “has been blown out of proportion.”

The sobering truth that some liberals fail to recognize is that there is no magic bullet (no pun intended) solution to this problem. Even if sensible gun control legislation were enacted today, over five million Americans already own an AR-15.

So, in the face of these long odds, steps forward Emma Gonzalez, a senior and survivor of the atrocity at Marjory Stoneman High School. Recently, while addressing a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, she said, “We certainty do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.”

A few days later, when asked by Carol Costello on CNN, “So, what do you say to the NRA?” she replied, “Disband. Dismantle. And don’t make an organization under a different name. And don’t you dare come back here.” She was wearing a t-shirt that said, “The Beatles” and I could not help but think that something of the best of what my generation stood for lives vibrantly in her. 

AR-15s are not healthy for children and other living things.