Do something, kids cried after their friends were victims of an ambush at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month.
They did something. Students left class. Some seized their 15 minutes of fame, demanding adults do something to protect them.
More protested guns Saturday in a march on Washington, scores of U.S. cities and around the world as part of “March for Our Lives.” The nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety is sponsoring the event. Michael Bloomberg is a co-founder of Everytown. Hollywood elites like philanthropist Eli Broad pledged $1 million toward the movement to end gun violence. Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, George and Amal Clooney and Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg promised $500,000 each to the march.
Everytown hopes to match the National Rifle Association’s political influence. Now it is using unsuspecting children around the world to grab guns.
I wonder if the kids know they are being used as pawns by one-percenters. One wonders if these kids study 20th century history and know that Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Tse Tung and Joseph Stalin seized guns on their way to becoming the worst dictators of the century.
Everyone seems to have a school shooting angle. The Democrats should do something: “Pass my bill” — calling for more than $125 million in school safety — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland cried this week after a school shooting in southern Maryland.
“Having a trained, professional school resource officer made a difference … armed school resource officers are available in our high schools and that’s important,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., said. “We need common sense gun safety legislation.”
The state already has tough gun laws. Cardin has sat in Congress since 1987. He is running for his third term in the Senate this year. Cardin has not introduced any gun legislation, “common sense” or otherwise, in his 31 years in Washington.
What is the career politician waiting for?
One thing the grown-ups cannot do is confiscate licensed handguns and rifles owned by law-abiding Americans. The Constitution and later Supreme Court decisions affirm U.S. citizens’ right to protect themselves. Unfortunately many criminals have weapons. States are and will look at measures to prohibit the sale of guns to the mentally ill. The federal government is expected to allow health agencies to study gun violence.
Adults can encourage manufacturers to label the video games, movies, records and television programs these children feed themselves on too often. Local and federal lawmakers have tried, and failed, to mandate labels for video games since 2005.
When concerned the government may act to “protect children” — like so many youth are expected to demand during “March for Our Lives” — associations will self-regulate. The Motion Picture Association of America did this in 1968. After the wives of conservative Washington insiders attacked the music industry in the mid-80s, the Record Industry Association of America, met with 19 record labels, which all agreed to include parental advisory stickers on their albums in 1985. The stickers are still used today.
Television has the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board. It was created in 1999 after Congress encouraged the entertainment industry to establish a voluntary television rating system to provide parents with information about material in television programming that would trigger the V-Chip. (The V-Chip enables parents to block programming they determine to be inappropriate for their families. Perhaps weapons manufacturers and distributors would consider doing something similar.)
The first thing high school students should do is stop playing the victim. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School bear some of the blame for the Nikolas Cruz shooting. Students mocked Cruz for being a loner.
By their own accounts they “bullied Cruz a lot,” according to a story in the Miami Herald. One student said he remembered Cruz being teased in 10th grade. By then, Cruz was getting attention from students for his bizarre social media postings. In some of them, he posted pictures of himself with knives and guns.
“He would come over after school and was visibly upset about being teased, but he pretended that he really didn’t care,” a neighbor said. A younger Cruz attempted to join other kids riding their bicycles in the neighborhood, but the kids brushed him off and called him names.
A little kindness goes a long way. Instead of walking out of school in protest, walk up to the loner and try to start a conversation. If you see someone getting bullied, challenge the bullies. Report the bullies.
Do not help them create another mass murderer.
Andy Arnold is a recipient of the Virginia Press Association honor for best sports feature story for daily newspapers and was also recognized for public relations excellence from Maryland American Heart Association.
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