By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Regrettably, in the wake of another mass shooting in this country, the GOP has responded in its usual fashion: guarded lip service and no thought of political action. If there has been one ray of hope in the aftermath of this horrific event, it’s been the courageous response of the individuals that were directly affected: the surviving high school students.
In recent days, Emma Gonzalez, a student at the Parkland, Florida high school where 17 people were left dead after a mass shooting has become the public face and the strident voice of what potentially could become a real movement to enact commonsense gun control measures. And, what’s really telling – this response is being led by the students themselves. The young, articulate senior, in delivering remarks in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, pulled no punches in expressing her grief and outright anger. She explicitly stated, “If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change we need to see.”
As protests and rallies continue to crop up across the country, in support of gun control action, the Alt-right and Republicans have begun to push back with some ridiculous assertions. For instance, an aide to Florida State Representative Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent out a picture and message alleging: “Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”
Contributing to this lunacy, former US Congressman Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, sent out the following tweet: O really? “Students” are planning a nationwide rally? Not left-wing gun control activists using 17yr kids in the wake of a tragedy? #Soros #Resistance #Antifa #DNC.”
Meanwhile, the asinine occupant in the White House has offered his perspective on this horrific incident. In his statement to the media following the event, Trump never mentioned the word guns during his remarks, rather he talked about mental illness as being the culprit. This clueless president is even on record for being in support of militarizing our schools – teachers and coaches having access to handguns, to combat this reoccurring threat.
Here’s the naked truth: The mass shooting mania that grips this nation is directly linked to the ready availability of assault weapons and guns that can be converted into automatic weapons. Moreover, assault weapons serve no legitimate, recreational purpose, but are intended solely to maim and kill on a mass scale.
Student activism is not a new phenomenon in this country. During the Civil Rights struggle the Freedom Riders, who were mostly college students, led “sit-ins” at segregated lunch counters throughout the South. This new call to action by students is real, wonderful to see, and hopefully will be the catalyst for meaningful gun control change.