• Local
  • El Paso, Texas
  • more weather >
Audra Melton/New York Times
Tyra Hemans, 19, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, held a sign on the steps of Leon High School in Tallahassee, Fla., on Tuesday.


More Info
By Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 Viewpoints 21

I hesitated when The Edge asked me to write about Parkland. My first impulse was to fall back on all I’m doing right now. I’ve been pretty busy making a living while also keeping up with recent developments with the Mueller investigation for The Edge–the approaching cooperation of Richard Gates, the indictment of 13 Russians and the reality that 130 members of the Trump Team don’t have security clearance.

Quite frankly, my second response was a certain kind of fear. I found myself saying that it’s one thing to write about The Swamp, quite another to write about a subject I know from experience prompts participants in the conversation to go ballistic. Reason flies out the window when you talk about guns.

So I said no. Until the morning after, when, up early before work and nursing my first cup of coffee, I turned on CNN and watched a high school freshman explain how her geology teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had saved her life and the lives of her classmates, making sure they rushed back to their classroom, then taking the bullets that would have ended their lives.

I changed channels and heard Cameron Kasky say, “Our community just took 17 bullets to the heart and it feels like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws.”

I started to read. “I lost two of my closest, closest people to me because of guns,” said survivor Kelsey Friend.

We are used to lies here. What with the politicians of every stripe and the bureaucrats who bolster them, and even within the alphabet soup of agencies that is my own bailiwick, the reality is that truth is a commodity that has become increasingly rare here in the nation’s capital. Somewhere along the line, the politicians pretty much all decided they couldn’t get elected if they told the people the truth. So many have followed suit. And, until very recently, the press shied away from investigating the news, preferring a well-crafted press release to finding the story beneath the story they’re selling.

Like most of those I know or work with, I’ve gotten used to the lies, used to the liars, and used to the cynicism and the well-earned hopelessness that accompany the unending cascade of untruths we abide. “This is the way it is,” we tell ourselves hour after hour. We’ve become comfortable with a certain kind of cowardice.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the young adults of Parkland were cutting through the layers of despair I had built up all these years. They were telling their truth with passion and conviction. They were smart but, most of all, they were present. They were real. And there were tears in my eyes.

Kashiya Biggs, 17, facing left, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, weeps with her friend, Lex Reynoso, 16, as the names of deceased victims are read during a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 15. Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP

Of course, these brave young people were almost immediately countered by The Professional Politicians–those who talk and talk and talk–rebuked by all those Rulemakers who, for so many years, have relied upon a false arithmetic. But these kids wouldn’t give them the last word. Because they could see clearly that 2 + 2 wasn’t 3. For them, more guns equaled more death. More bullets meant more dying. For them, the currently acceptable math about guns–of course we could have more guns, better guns, more lethal guns–clearly meant dead friends and fellow students no longer living.

Then, like clockwork, the man who represents those young people who died, who supposedly serves those families who have been irreparably damaged and those young folks who magically survived, well, he couldn’t help but wade in with his well-worn excuses. Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News it was too soon to be talking about banning assault rifles, that we didn’t know enough about the details of this particular mass murder. Rubio told this grieving community: “I think it’s important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there was some law that we could have passed that would have prevented it. And there may be, but shouldn’t we at least know the facts?”

It was not appropriate for his Senate colleagues to use the incident as an opportunity to call for increased gun control. Later in the day, he tweeted: “In days ahead will become increasingly evident that killer in today’s ‪#FloridaSchoolShooting gave plenty of indications of what was to come.”

The next day, Rubio continued on: “You could pass a law that makes it harder to get this kind of gun in new condition … But you’re going to struggle to keep it out of the hands of someone who’s decided that’s what they want to use, because there’s so many of them out there already that would be grandfathered in.” Increased background checks could also be ineffective because someone who fails a check could simply purchase a gun on the black market. “I’m trying to be clear and honest here,” Rubio said. “Someone who has decided to commit this crime, they’ll find a way to get the gun to do it.”

Which was just a long way around to telling everyone that the old arithmetic works fine for him: There isn’t anything to be done. And while he wouldn’t come out and say it, he has no intention of doing anything. You could almost hear him crowing: “Checkmate!”

In the end, Rubio tweeted from the Bible: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. John 16:33.”

Which, in the past, might have worked. But these young people know a new math. They had noticed what he hadn’t acknowledged: that he was neither clear nor particularly honest with them, and that his opinions on these matters–and his votes, unfortunately–are deeply influenced by money. He had failed to tell people that, of all our representatives, he had taken the second highest amount of money from the gun lobby–that, while he tells his deeply wounded constituents they should take courage, he is taking cold cash.

But he is only one of the many. Sen. Ted Cruz squeezed $360,727 from the gun folks, and Rubio’s $171,977 barely beat out the esteemed Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who took $176,030. How much money did you contribute last year to a Congressional candidate?

Here, apparently, is how Ryan earns that dough: “There’s more questions than answers at this stage,” Ryan told Indiana radio host Tony Katz. “I don’t think that means you then roll the conversation into taking away citizens’ rights — taking away a law-abiding citizen’s rights. Obviously this conversation typically goes there,” he added.

“Right now, I think we need to take a breath and collect the facts.” Ryan called the shooting “horrific,” and said that he thinks Congress needs to wait for more facts about the shooter’s motivation and past criminal record.

Like Rubio, Ryan retreated to the Lord. “I think we need to pray, and our hearts go out to these victims,” Ryan said. “And I think, as public policymakers, we don’t just knee-jerk before we even have all the facts and the data.”

I suspect that, while John 17:17: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” might be a bar far too high to pass for many of our lawmakers, it might more aptly apply to the survivors of Parkland.

As Audra D. S. Burch, Patricia Mazzei and Jack Healy reported for the New York Times: “when a gunman killed 17 students this week at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., the first response of many of their classmates was not to grieve in silence, but to speak out. Their urgent voices — in television interviews, on social media, even from inside a locked school office as they hid from the gunman — are now rising in the national debate over gun violence in the aftermath of yet another school shooting.

“While many politicians after the shooting were focused on mental health and safety, some vocal students at Stoneman Douglas High showed no reluctance in drawing attention to gun control.

They called out politicians over Twitter, with one student telling Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, ‘YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.’ Shortly after the shooting, Cameron Kasky, a junior at the school, and a few friends started a ‘Never Again’ campaign on Facebook that shared stories and perspectives from other students who survived the rampage … ‘People say it’s too early to talk about it,’ Mr. Kasky said. ‘If you ask me, it’s way too late.’”

With “way too late” echoing in my ears, I went to work, where it didn’t take too long before I was witnessing a heated debate about the Second Amendment–amongst white men, by the way–and the right to bear arms. It didn’t take long before I heard that, if you take away guns from the law-abiding, only the criminals will be armed, or the claim that a better solution to Parkland was not to take away guns but arming the teachers. Round and round and round we go, I thought.

I told The Edge I’d do my best.

It wasn’t long before I got a text from my co-worker Karen over at the Asia desk. Short and sweet: “Parkland. The kids and the comic and Bess Kalb,” with a link that took me to late-night TV host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue. It took just a moment for Jimmy Kimmel to remind me how he had brought humanity to the health care debate when he shared the story of his newborn’s need for complicated heart surgery and his great concern for the many, many parents without his considerable financial means who wouldn’t be able to provide the same level of care for their children.

This is what Kimmel told his studio audience and those watching at home: “As I’m sure you know and feel, this is another very sad day in America … At least 17 lives have been lost. More than a dozen people are hospitalized, and our president, as he should, weighed in on the tragic events this morning from the White House.”

The host then showed clips of Trump’s speech from the White House on Thursday morning in which the president said, “No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.”

“Agreed,” Jimmy Kimmel responded. “Here’s what you do to fix that. Tell your buddies in Congress–tell Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio, all the family men who care so much about their communities–that what we need are laws. Real laws that do everything possible to keep assault rifles out of the hands of people who are going to shoot our kids.”

Kimmel added that politicians and the president like to say that mass shootings are a mental health issue. He then reminded us that one of the first acts of Trump’s presidency was to roll back a regulation designed to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. “Your party voted to repeal the mandates on coverage for mental health,” Kimmel told the president. “So I agree this is a mental illness issue because, if you don’t think we need to do something about it, you are obviously mentally ill.”

Kimmel finished his monologue by saying that viewers could write or call their representatives to demand gun control. And if they don’t listen, he said, people can vote those representatives out.

“Whatever you do, do something because I, for one, am very, very, very, very tired of this,” he said, before showing clips of politicians and the president saying it’s too early to talk about gun control.

“Yeah, no, it isn’t,” Kimmel said.

Thanks to Karen, I learned that one of the members of the Kimmel team, Bess Kalb, who refers to herself as “a girl TV writer and a real piece of work,” counterpoised the saccharine tweets of the politicians with the amount of money they’ve received from the gun lobby.

Here are a few of their tweets and Bess Kalb’s responses:

Beholden as they are to the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers, is it surprising that these politicians tell us it is too soon to talk about, study, let alone actually act to ban the assault weapons that kill our kids and their teachers.

Could it be that Rubio and Cruz and Ryan and Trump would rather have the cash than save innocent lives? Not surprisingly, I learned from Marketwatch that the NRA and other gun groups have targeted 98 percent of their campaign contributions to Republicans.

Now, you and I have made a certain kind of peace with the NRA in much the same way as we have made a certain kind of peace with men sending our young to fight wars that don’t need fighting. My parents’ generation might have protested Vietnam, but they didn’t stop it. Later, the nonsensical war in Iraq destroyed a nation that didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, and we killed and wounded another generation of our young and pretty much abandoned them to PTSD.

Or on another front, another kind of accommodation, men have let other men sexually abuse women–the dreadful reality that we didn’t stop the Harvey Weinsteins in profession after profession, from rising to such power and prominence as they pressured, assaulted, raped women with less power, that we have accommodated ourselves to the presidency of a man who boasted he can kiss any woman he wants or grab the pussy of any woman he chooses.

I can’t help but think what we’re seeing and hearing from the young men and women of Parkland is but an extension of the #metoo movement, and Times Up. For it seems clear that at the heart of this is a new commitment to truth-telling, to reclaiming the quintessential moral core that we used to believe lay at the heart of the American experience–a young and vital multiracial, multicultural community demanding to be heard, demanding a shift in power from the representatives back to the represented, demanding that those who are quick to claim they serve actually do some serving.

What immediately became apparent was that, for these young people and their parents–prompted by such deep grief and profound pain, loss so profound–the normal bounds of political discourse dissolved in a heartbeat.

Clearly Trump’s remarks about the shooting failed to comfort the Parkland community. He told us: “Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you — whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also.

“No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning …

In these moments of heartache and darkness, we hold on to God’s word in scripture: ‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you.’

“We trust in that promise, and we hold fast to our fellow Americans in their time of sorrow. I want to speak now directly to America’s children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared: I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer, or a faith leader. Answer hate with love; answer cruelty with kindness.”

The grief-stricken mother of 15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff transfixed a CNN reporter when she spoke through their camera directly to Trump: “How do we allow a gunman to come into our children’s school,” asked Lori Alhadeff? “How do they get through security? What security is there? … There’s no metal detectors … The gunman, a crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door, and starts shooting. Shooting her and killing her.”

Then according to David Choi of Business Insider: “Alhadeff’s emotions poured out as she vented her frustrations against President Donald Trump, who responded to the shooting by urging children who were ‘lost, alone, confused or even scared’ to seek help.

“President Trump, you say ‘What can you do?’” Alhadeff said. “You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands. Put metal detectors at every entrance to the schools. What can you do? You can do a lot,” Alhadeff continued. “This is not fair to our families. That our children go to school, and have to get killed. I just spent the last two hours making the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral.”

Trump, who hadn’t mentioned guns, decided to raise the issue of the mental health of the shooter, scolding the community for its failure to report his problem to the authorities in an early morning tweet:

Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, spoke Saturday at a rally: “Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.

“We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time …

“ … Australia had one mass shooting in 1999 in Port Arthur (and after the) massacre introduced gun safety, and it hasn’t had one since. Japan has never had a mass shooting. Canada has had three and the UK had one and they both introduced gun control and yet here we are, with websites dedicated to reporting these tragedies so that they can be formulated into statistics for your convenience.”

It’s clear she had read the president’s tweet: “There is one tweet I would like to call attention to. So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities again and again. We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid. OK, we did. We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife.

“And how about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the student’s fault, the fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place …

Emma Gonzalez

“If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.

“You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.

“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
Crowd chants, shame on you.

“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS.

“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS.

“They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS. If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.”
(Crowd chants) Throw them out.”

Like many of you, I’ve had my share of arguments. Each time there’s a mass shooting I’m filled with fury. But it passes. I’ve learned to deal with unacceptable death, unspeakable murder. But I have a feeling, for these young people, there won’t be a passing until there’s real action.

They’ve begun a movement and will March For Our Lives: “March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now …

“The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country. Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear. It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard. Stand with us on March 24. Refuse to allow one more needless death. MARCH FOR OUR LIVES!”

These young people know all about homework. Well, I have a few suggestions for you. Go back and read the Pentagon Papers or watch the PBS special on Vietnam. Re-familiarize yourself with what happened when a bunch of arrogant white men who loved power and guns and bigger guns convinced themselves that invading a faraway country whose language we didn’t understand and whose history and culture we didn’t appreciate was somehow an enterprise worth killing more than 50,000 Americans and 1 million Vietnamese.

Read the reports compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1973 about some of the surprising consequences of owning a gun at home. You’ll understand why the NRA-purchased Congress stopped our government from producing similar reports.

Here’s a short summary: “In 1993, a group of researchers published a study that challenged the most basic assumptions of many gun owners: That owning a gun makes you safer.

The study, rigorously conducted by ten credentialed experts, and appearing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, found instead that the reverse is true. ‘Although firearms are often kept in homes for personal protection, this study shows that the practice is counter-productive,’ the authors wrote. ‘Our data indicate that keeping a gun in the home is independently associated with an increase in the risk of homicide in the home.’

“The previous year, the same researchers had published a similar study finding the same link between gun ownership and suicide. Both studies were funded by the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

The next time somebody lectures you about the Second Amendment and how important it is for people to have and keep their guns, ask them if they’ve ever read Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. Then try and read it yourself. I lose my mind halfway through.

Now, I know many will disagree but, to me, Heller is the quintessential example of lawyering, a masterful display of cherry-picking the historical record and linguistic analysis worthy of a Ph.D. dissertation in English and American literature all to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. I don’t doubt for a moment that Scalia could have done the same impressive job arguing the opposite opinion. Somehow “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” dispenses with militias and has brought us to a mentally-unstable teenager bringing a weapon more efficient than the weapon that our soldiers used to kill so many Vietnamese into a Florida school.

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I’m an analyst and often think too much.

I’ll leave you with the promise of a new day and a new generation bringing new eyes, new minds and open hearts to an issue we’ve failed to address.

Emma Gonzalez put it this way: “We don’t want these people in charge of us anymore …We have to be the politicians in this instance. We have to be the people calling for change and demanding a change.”




“Students call for change, stricter gun laws in wake of Parkland shooting”
Feb. 16, 2018

“Rubio: Shooters ‘will find a way to get the gun’”
Brandon Carter, Feb. 15, 2018, the Hill

“Ryan: Don’t roll Florida school shooting conversation into ‘taking away citizens’ rights”
Avery Anapol, Feb. 15, 2018, the Hill

“A ‘Mass Shooting Generation’ Cries Out for Change”
Audra D. S. Burch, Patricia Mazzei and Jack Healy, Feb. 16, 2018, New York Times


“Jimmy Kimmel to Trump after school shooting: ‘You’ve literally done nothing’”
by Frank Pallotta, Feb. 16, 2018, CNN

Jimmy Kimmel YouTube Video

Trump’s speech addressing the Parkland school shooting
Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, CNN

“What can you do?: Mother of 15-year-old Parkland shooting victim demands action from Trump”
David Choi, Feb. 15, 2018

“Florida student Emma Gonzalez to lawmakers and gun advocates: ‘We call BS’”
Feb. 17, 2018, CNN


The Pentagon Papers, officially titled “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force”, was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967. In June of 1971, small portions of the report were leaked to the press and widely distributed. However, the publications of the report that resulted from these leaks were incomplete and suffered from many quality issues.

“Blackout: How the NRA suppressed gun violence research”
Zachary Roth, Oct. 2, 2013

“Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home”
Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H., et al
N Engl J Med 1993; 329:1084-1091
DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199310073291506, October 7, 1993
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199310073291506 – t=article

“Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership”
Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H., et al
N Engl J Med 1992; 327:467-472
DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199208133270705

Second Amendment – U.S. Constitution
Amendment Text | Annotations

“Prior to the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the courts had yet to definitively state what right the Second Amendment protected. The opposing theories, perhaps oversimplified, were (1) an “individual rights” approach, whereby the Amendment protected individuals’ rights to firearm ownership, possession, and transportation; and (2) a “states’ rights” approach, under which the Amendment only protected the right to keep and bear arms in connection with organized state militia units. Moreover, it was generally believed that the Amendment was only a bar to federal action, not to state or municipal restraints.

However, the Supreme Court has now definitively held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that weapon for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Moreover, this right applies not just to the federal government, but to states and municipalities as well.”

“School Shooting Survivor Emma Gonzalez Speaks Out: “We Don’t Want These People in Charge Anymore”
Elaine Aradillas, Feb. 19, 2018, People Magazine

More by »

21 Comments   Add Comment

  1. DB says:

    We are all so upset… however, everyone of these NRA $$$- taking politicians were elected by their American constituents. We blane them, but who got them elected in the first place? And then re-elected?
    How about we don’t do that anymore? Yes gun control, but we need to fire these traitors.

  2. SK says:

    I live near Parkland. I cry every day and I have incredible compassion and anger every time I hear one of those surviving children speak. I know that community. I know they will finally make a difference. Last night they confronted some of our politicians at a huge rally.They were honest and they were on fire. They asked Marco Rubio if he would promise not to take money from the NRA ever again. No response. But I know they got him thinking. These kids will not back down. They are channeling their grief into action. They are firing up kids across the country. They have started a movement that we must all join!

    1. Steve Farina says:

      No, we mustn’t all join

    2. DB says:

      However, these children can’t vote yet. Their parents can. Get rid of Rubio and his ilk. Speak with your votes not just anger.

  3. Steve Farina says:

    What happened in Florida is tragic. I wish to start with that.
    Was the author paid to write this? If so, how much? While I don’t doubt his position on the issue of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, whether paid or not, it would be interesting to know if there is an influence of money his his reporting.
    Using the Vietnam conflict as an example, perhaps the author suffers from ptsd still from this conflict, idk, drawing in the #metoo movement, as well as the removal of the ‘individual mandate’ (which btw, does not force anyone to cancel their insurance, it gives them the option so as not to be penalized – especially poignant for millenials who don’t want to pay the the baby boomers premiums) the author clearly starts with a bias that is likely to be shared by a large number in this particular community. By using these emotional hot buttons (not counting Vietnam and the senseless bombing in the middle east, which seems out of place in this discussion) he draws further support for his position on a totally separate topic.
    The NRA is not on trial here, and if the desire is to go there, then ALL lobby groups should be reprimanded for the influence the impart on our politicians on a multitude of issues.
    The 2nd Amendment is part of the foundation of this great nation’s ability to be a free people.
    The problem, as is often the case, lies in the hearts and minds on our fellow mankind. If it wasn’t guns, it would be machetes, or knives, or baseball bats, or acid – as in London. And, the call would be to ban these too.
    If history is any indicator, there will always be evil among us. The solution is only going to be found in healing the heart of mankind.
    Tearing apart the foundation of this country, whether it be the 1st, 2nd, 4th, or any of our Constitution, will only destroy our nation and open us up to unscrupulous foreign or domestic transgression.

    1. Pete says:

      What do you suggest, more prayers? In 1987, a child was killed playing lawn darts and the government out lawed them. Now we have children being slaughtered on a monthly basis, and we defend the rights of the assassins to buy and use AR 15s? The second amendment is not scripture and was conceived in the era of muskets. Common sense laws to protect our children and all citizens are needed. Examples, Great Britain, Canada and Australia. I suggest voting these people out of office. The second amendment does not need to be changed to implement common sense laws.

      1. Steve Farina says:

        Are you suggesting we outlaw all but muskets?
        We already have common sense laws.
        At the time of the Revolution which created this great nation (which happens to protect through alliances, as the major military party, Great Brittain, Canada, and Australia) the musket was the leading technology. When The Crown decided their colonists diplomatic efforts were tiresome the British troops were sent to take the guns and munitions from their people. The shot heard ’round the world was not fired over taxes, it was over an attempt to disarm the populace.
        Had our forefathers not had equal ability to match their government’s might, then we would not even be having this discussion. Historically, governments abuse power and subjugate people. The 2nd Amendment exists as a balance to both foreign and domestic government entities, allowing us to be a people free of dictatorial tyranny.

    2. Pete says:

      What happened to the “well regulated militia” part of the Second Ammendment? Are these shooters part of the militia? Obviously not. Common sense to me means no assault weapons, background checks to include gun shows, age restriction on gun purchases, carry permits, training, etc. With all the legal and illegal guns floating around, these alone will not stop gun violence, but we need to start somewhere. Just my opinion. The assault weapon ban, a bi partisan piece of legislation was not renewed, thanks to the NRA and our Congress. Common sense laws are not fully in place, and have in some cases been repealed.

  4. Linda Hemingway says:

    Outstanding article! Thank you. These students are so right and brave to be confronting the fallacies of this “democracy.” With Rubio saying things like “…but shouldn’t we at least know the facts?” and Ryan saying “There’s more questions than answers at this stage…Right now, I think we need to take a breath and collect the facts…we don’t just knee-jerk before we even have all the facts and the data.”, who can we expect to feed Congress that data but the oh-so-trustworthy NRA. The CDC, a previously sought out source of trustworthy studies, has been muzzled by the NRA. And continues to be muzzled by the Dickey Amendment, which disallows federal monies to be spent by that agency for reports that might just be construed as advocating any form of gun control. And this Republican body of politicians continues to censor the truth by ratifying this amendment with each budget passed. It must be repealed in order to allow the CDC to do it’s job, which involves promoting and protecting the health and SAFETY of this nation. Maybe then we can have rational and justified legislation based on “all the facts and data”.

  5. John H Hart says:

    Letter from a friend in California. He is a left leaning intelligent conservative. Me, I think the demonstrations, in addition to State Capitals and Washington should surround places like the offshore company that opened an AK-15 manufacturing plant in Pompano Beach FL and the headquarters of the NRA. My friend Roy Prinz’s letter follows:
    John H,

    Until the populous wakes up to the fact that political elections are not popularity contests and chooses their representatives based on a candidates’ experience and wisdom we will continue to see legislation that panders to their voting base. Given that the general voting base continues to be dumbed down and self absorbed it is unlikely that that this trend will change.

    What is the best legislation? Hmmm… Laws based on common sense and are fair to all???

    This would translate into (considering our freedoms and need to restrict the behavior of the disenfranchised) …laws that would guide the majority under most conditions most of the time. Those that fall outside those parameters just have to suck it up because, there is no perfect law that works for everyone all the time every time. The population explosion both here and around the world over the past century will require more laws and the loss of freedoms to maintain order.

    In this social media driven world everyone thinks that they should be king. This will eventually fractionalize a society and undermine our collective security. (i.e. this is the point of the Russian meddling in our political affairs; of course which country has a long history of political interference in an attempt to destabilize political systems and implement change… why us of course. We’ve f’d with the Ruskies for years and now we’re outraged when they place some half assed political ads on Facebook!!! Though most of the time our intentions have been humanitarian but also self righteous and profitable.)

    I for one and greatly disturbed by our political evolution. We have inept politicians representing our collective behalf. The political parties are at war with each other, can’t pass sensible legislation, can’t manage fiscal responsibility, place themselves first when it comes to compensation and lie to us about their inability to address important issues and get things done. I for one am sick and tiered of hearing some lame politician exclaim that something must be done “for the sake of our grandchildren”; this is a thinly veiled excuse for not correcting the problem now and kicks the proverbial can down the road. If we fixed the problem today the no future generations would have to deal with it. Show me a political candidate who speaks from experience and has the guts to stand up for what is right and I’ll show you a candidate who (in the eyes of the voters) is unelectable. “I have met the enemy and he is us.” …a bastardization of Commodore Oliver Perrys’ quote from Pogo.

    …as far as this current gun thing goes, what sane legislator can look us in the eye and say that is fine for ‘everyone’ to own assault weapons. These are weapons of mass destruction and go far beyond sport of the defense of one’s property. There have been too many examples of insane behavior to not act on limiting the private arsenals of the citizenry; those that would take offense are in the minority. (see above for the basis for legislation).

    …well there you have it, my rant for the day.

    I hope that you and yours are well, peace and happiness to all.

    Oh yah, one more thing, don’t let your guard down for the times are always a changin’ and you don’t want to get caught without any sane options.


  6. Linda Hemingway says:

    Dook Snyder’s article is titled “Enough”. I’m seconding that with ENOUGH. “Think before you speak – read before you think.” Fran Lobowitz Please consider the following articles by someone who did his research first before opening his mouth:
    I spent 21 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I qualified on the firing range with shotgun, handgun and the M-16 – military version of the AR-15. It is a powerful weapon. We were taught to shoot “center mass”. You know what that means, don’t you?
    For all those gun enthusiasts so enamored with the AR-15, enlist, work in law enforcement. We (meaning the military and law enforcement) could certainly use the help.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      Linda, thank you for sharing this and for the links. I appreciate your background and your willingness to serve for so many years in the prison system.
      It is nice to see an author, such as the one who wrote the articles you link to, who publishes responses even when they run counter to his own assertions. In particular, there is a comment relating to the civilian sale of the AR-15 predating the M16s military use. As the reader can see, that commenter was well positioned to have accurate information and was not debunked by the articles author. So, essentially he was admitting the AR-15 was intended to be in the hands of civilians, in spite of his headline. Also, point of notice, the AR-15 has been in civilian hands for over 50 years and the use of it in “mass shootings” is a relatively new phenomenon. That said, my response to Dook below sums up my position on this. Thank you again for sharing, it is good to have lively, respectful, discussion on such important topics.

  7. Dook Snyder says:

    Thank you for your comments. I’ve learned over the years how fond people are of their opinions, how reluctantly they re-examine them, except perhaps while acting as members of a jury. People are especially fond of their opinions regarding the Second Amendment. Having recently done a bit of writing, I’ve begun to pay more attention to the words I and others use.

    It’s instructive to re-read the Bill of Rights. Our founders write with clarity and directness. For the moment, let’s skip the Second and look at the First and Third. The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Pretty clear here. Congress can’t abridge freedom of speech, the press, the right of assembly …

    The Third Amendment states: “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

    But when it comes to the Second Amendment we are supposed to believe that the Founders didn’t care about militias, especially well-regulated militias. They added those extra words just for the hell of it. “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” 

    What they really, truly meant was that a well-regulated militia wasn’t really necessary to the security of a free state. That was best accomplished by every citizen – I guess at that time white property owning males – with weapons that didn’t exist yet.

    Generations of attorneys and attorneys who became judges have turned the words of the Founders into just another way to justify their ever-changing biases.

    As for me, millions of American men with semi-automatic weapons has zilch to do with the security of a free America. And quite frankly how have all these over-armed white men done against the mass shooters who kill children, teenagers, country music fans?

    So much for the academic argument. Now the human response. There is no decent reason on Earth why someone needs a semi-automatic weapon like the AR 15 that was used in Parkland unless you are facing a zombie apocalypse. No deer and certainly no human deserves to be on the receiving end of this weapon. Here is the response of a radiologist who had to help the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as recorded in The Atlantic:

    “As I opened the CT scan last week to read the next case, I was baffled. The history simply read “gunshot wound.” I have been a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation for 13 years, and have diagnosed thousands of handgun injuries to the brain, lung, liver, spleen, bowel, and other vital organs. I thought that I knew all that I needed to know about gunshot wounds, but the specific pattern of injury on my computer screen was one that I had seen only once before.
    “In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.
    “I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?
    “The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal …
    “The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat travelling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.
    “With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky. If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to a trauma center to receive our care.”

    I’ll simply end with the notion that given the reality of these weapons I prefer my interpretation of the Second Amendment.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      Thank you for taking the time to reply. For what it is worth, I constantly reexamine my stance on many issues and occasionally after much investigation will find that I am wrong. In those instances I am quick to admit it. In this instance, I do not believe I am wrong. Though we agree on several points, such as the lack of truth in politics and media (through regurgitating press releases especially), I disagree with your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
      Which one of us is right, well of course we each think our own opinions are. I will extrapolate the 2nd Amendment as I read it (the placement of commas is important to its interpretation and the version you have quoted is what has been settled):
      . “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
      * A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…shall not be infringed
      * the right of the people to keep and bear arms…shall not be infringed

      While I appreciate your including the description of how destructive the AR-15 can be, it almost sounds like you would prefer mass shootings be accomplished with a handgun (which I absolutely know is not the case, but I suppose then you would be free to decry all guns and push to remove them from the hands of citizens ). Also, it is important to note that of the millions of the AR-15 in the hands of the public, it is not just white men who own them. There are many women gun owners, as well as blacks, hispanics, asians, and many other ethnicities. It is not in the purview of these gun owners to provide public safety in the sense that you seem to ascribe and then fault them for.
      In fact, in this morning’s news cycle we are learning that there was indeed an armed police officer on site, at the end of the building where the shooting took place, from the commencement of shots fired. Additionally we learn that he had been previously been briefed that the shooting suspect had issues widely reported in the news. Apparently it took 4 minutes to respond to a shooting scene that lasted a total of 6 minutes, and a public safety officer was standing outside the door, aware of the shooting taking place, from its inception. This just further bolsters the argument that it is just not possible for any public servant to be able to protect every individual in every circumstance.
      So, yes, I disagree witb your interpretation. As you point out we thankfully have the 1st Amendment so we can discuss this.
      Finally, I wish to reiterate that the problem is the heart of humankind, not the weapon of choice.

      1. Ellen Lahr says:

        It is all and entirely about the weapon of choice. I dream that law abiding, respectable gun owners would stand up and advocate for the voluntary surrender of these weapons by gun owners, dealers and manufacturers.

      2. Linda Hemingway says:

        “…the problem is the heart of humankind, not the weapon of choice.” Yes, I agree, after working in the prison system and learning of the horrific deeds perpetrated on others by convicted inmates, sometimes just for “fun”. But I hear no answers, no suggestions on how to heal that heart. This new tragedy has touched more people, encouraged more to speak out, prompted more political action than any previous tragedy and I congratulate everyone who has opened their HEART to support action. Because that is part of the healing process. Sometimes we have to give up something in order to get to a better place. Why not start with the AR-15?
        Thank you for your civil and respectful response to my last comments. But because a weapon has been around for 50 years does not necessarily make it right. I still agree with The Atlantic articles conclusion that this is strictly an ASSAULT WEAPON for military use to destroy an enemy in combat. I also agree with Ellen that the NRA is indeed on trial for the way they lobby against any logical control. And lastly, I agree with you that if we pursue one lobbyist, we should pursue them all. It was a grave mistake giving such political power to organizations and taking the voice away from the people. It’s all about MONEY. Do your research to see just how much Congress is compromised. This country is really broken.

  8. Ellen Lahr says:

    Steve Farina, the NRA IS INDEED ON TRIAL here. We are just in opening arguments. The NRA could cop a plea deal and agree to support a national buyback of semi-auto weapons. The 2nd Amendments was not written for weapons of civilian mass destruction

    1. Steve Farina says:

      My response here is to several of the comments:
      Ellen (and Pete), did you stand up against cargo vans, airplanes, and pressure cookers? Other IEDs? The 2nd Amendment does not specify that it is only relevant until a certain type of armament is invented. It is as relevant today as the rest of our Constitution.
      As for your NRA on trial statement…maybe check out this article if you have not seen it already:
      (Side note: that author’s comment about alignment vs influence is exactly my thought process when asking Dook if he had been paid for writing the article above)
      Now, I have not personally researched the number of AR-15 in circulation, instead relying on the oft quoted and seemingly reasonable 5 million. Tragically, about a handful have been used for nefarious purpose on unarmed civilians. For arguments sake, I’ll use 20. 20 ÷ 5000000 x 100 = .0004%. Since Cain and Abel (if you believe that to be historical record – point being for all our history) man has found a way to harden his heart and kill fellow man. So yes, the issue is the heart.
      Linda, if I had a one size fits all answer to “how to heal the heart?” I would share it. Jesus has had over 2000 years since walking the Earth and his message hasn’t reached everyone yet (nor have any of the other peace seeking religions). Suffice it to say I can only share from experience. Having spent many years volunteering in the County jails from Berkshire to Barnstable, and reaching out in the streets and homeless shelters of Springfield, Hartford, and New Haven with the sole purpose of changing hearts, I’ve found some change dramatically, some over time, and some refuse to change. Some people soften their hearts and revert back. While many resulting experiences cause sadness at the lack of change, or reversion, there were also many moments of joy in seeing lives changed for the better. What my experience tells me, is that it is incumbent upon each of us to lift each other up, not tear each other down. And maybe, just maybe, we can change some hearts along the way.

  9. Peter Greer says:

    Assault weapons are for killing ; they are weapons for war not peace. if you think a “gun” of any type can protect you against the technology and weaponry available to the Government – the right to bear arms – you are in serious denial about the powers that they have . A “gun” in the world we live in has zero chance of protecting the rights intended by the second amendment. Zero. If one life is saved because the next shooter cannot readily obtain a rapid fire weapon and uses a standard weapon then its worth it . Heal the heart absolutely but stop the ability to squeeze a trigger on a assault weapon too. How about healing the hearts of those whose loved ones have been massacred who believe in banning these weapons …. How about putting yourself in their shoes.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      Banning the AR-15, nor any gun for that matter will not bring their loved ones back. The tragedy that occurred in FL appear to be riddled with systemic failures on the part of law enforcement, from the multuple credible reports that this young man was a potential school shooter (with online pix posted with weapons, and a person of the same name clearly stating he would be a school shooter) to the fact that the armed deputy outside the door, whose purpose at the school included stopping such incidents, to the three deputies who showed up and “formed a perimeter”. Meanwhile, inside as the shooter continued, a teacher put himself in front of the gunman to protect his students, a deadly feat of heroism. Would his chances of securing a different outcome have been different if indeed he too was trained and armed – yeah, immensely. Is that the soultion, idk, maybe, maybe not.
      The weapon of choice was not the cause of this tragedy. This troubled youth could have just as easily selected to use a pressure cooker to create an IED. He could have waited for an opportunity to drive a vehicle into a crowd of students, or any other number of ways to create devastation. Given his mental state, had he not been able to use the method he did, he very likely would have found another option.
      The 2nd Amendment (as is the entire Bill of Rights) is there to ensure that our government does not have the capability of taking the inherent rights of its people. And, yes, as we see in Syria again this morning, having a gun, or multiple guns, is not a direct threat to much of the technology utilized by governments around the world (especially ours). It is, however, a deterrent. Eventually these forces strive to put “boots on the ground”, and knowing if there is an armed vs unarmed populace makes a world of difference in the calculation of any invasion or other attempt to subjugate those people. The writers of The Constitution of the United States of America understood this.

      1. peter greer says:

        Nothing will bring back their loved ones ; but those directly affected,whose lives have been shattered are the ones leading the movement for common sense gun laws. To them this offers some closure and healing . And we need to stand with them . Your opinion of the second amendment is protected speech and you are entitled to articulate your opinion as you see fit.

What's your opinion?

We welcome your comments and appreciate your respect for others. We kindly ask you to keep your comments as civil and focused as possible. If this is your first time leaving a comment on our website we will send you an email confirmation to validate your identity.