The kids from Parkland will see right through this. They’ve shown more self-awareness at age 18 than I displayed at age 35. Of course, staring at death, contemplating one’s own mortality while seeing your contemporaries gunned down around you, that will mature someone, fast. Still, there’s something special about this group. They have a zeitgeist. They’ve captured lightning in a bottle, and are holding it as if their own very hearts will pour out should they spill it without succeeding in their mission. They see what he’s doing. More importantly, they’re preternaturally aware of what they’re doing, and they didn’t come all this way to lose. Moreover, their hearts can’t take another loss.
On Wednesday, our president, the most fearful man to occupy the oval office in my lifetime, urged the most fearful solution to gun violence proposed yet, to a group that doesn’t share his fear. Trump wants to arm teachers in every school in America. It’s an answer only an arms manufacturer can love, arms manufacturers that do not have children in school, that is. It certainly will not make anyone safer, indeed it will do nothing but dramatically increase the number of gun deaths in whatever school chooses this path or “solution.” If we have learned anything in the United States, it is that you do not decrease the likelihood of gun violence by increasing the number of guns in a setting, any setting, especially a school. I’m not being dogmatic about it. My own daughter is 10, attending grade school. Give me a choice between a school that chooses to arm its teachers and one that attempts to limit the number of guns in the community and I know what I’m going with.
Go to your local courthouse. Odds are, the courthouse will have metal detectors near the front entry. Courthouses are full of “good guys with guns,” there are cops everywhere. Yet, we still do what we can to limit the number of guns that enter the courthouse. Same can be said with respect to your state capital. I would bet a lot of money that your state capital has tremendous security, but also doesn’t allow “good guys” to walk around armed, unless they’re good guys trained as cops. The South Eastern Conference manages the sporting events that are the raison d’ etre’ of the reddest of the southeastern red states. The South Eastern Conference just told the state of Mississippi that if Mississippi allowed “concealed carry” weapons in and around the stadiums of the SEC, the conference would not force visiting teams to play in Mississippi, not with that many guns around. The conference couldn’t guarantee the safety of the visiting teams. Thus, the state of Mississippi will soon be changing its laws. Concealed carry is important, maybe worth some teens’ lives, but not worth losing the ‘Bama game, understand. Hospitals? What about your local emergency room? Think you are getting inside with your concealed weapon? Hell, no.
So, why is “teacher concealed carry” the answer to my daughter being able to attend her school without fear of being slaughtered? Simple, really. The Gunnerz need to demonstrate they actually think there’s a problem, but they aren’t about to back anything which might alter the sale of guns. Geez, if they’re not careful, the gun-lobby could end up backing something that decreases gun sales by 10% and no amount of senseless death in childhood is worth a 10% drop in profits, not in an industry that has already gone after the kids of Parkland as teaming up with George Soros, having some sort of “agenda.” As if the gunnerz don’t have an “agenda,” themselves.
Until Parkland, I can’t recall a school shooting where the shooter even seemed to contemplate living through it. The “concealed carry” answer does nothing more than limit the carnage, at best, limit it to maybe one figure, or “low two-figure” and then have a teacher gun down the shooter. That’s not an answer. The answer is to not have that gun walk into the school in the first place, to not have carnage in the first place. The answer involves making sure the “bad guy” never gets his hands on the gun, making sure it is damn hard for anyone to get their hand on a gun, obviously. But, that obvious answer is obviously not the answer because, again, it could decrease gun sales, and my child’s life isn’t worth it, to the gunnerz.
Luckily, I sense that these kids saw right through Trump and his faux empathy, empathy that had to be noted on his note card, lest Trump forget that he is sitting in a room surrounded by people who faced down the barrel of a gun. Not only do these kids see exactly what Trump is doing, I suspect they already have him squared off. They’re not going to accept “more guns” in their school as the answer. After all, they’ve been there. They’ve seen something most of us will see only in a nightmare, and they know the “fog of war” that envelopes such situations. They know that arming a teacher wouldn’t have saved any of the first half dozen of their classmates, likely none of them. Parkland’s kids are made of real stuff, they want a real answer, not platitudes. They told us what to do with our “thoughts and prayers” that first day.
As I said, there’s a zeitgeist about these kids. They own the moment and they seem to know it. Not for nothing, but it also seems as though they know that if they drop the bottle, if they lose that moment, it’ll be their hearts that pour out onto the sidewalk, not the lightning. So, they’re hanging tight, with all the smarts and maturity one needs to see right through the gunner agenda, right through Trump’s faux empathy, right through self-serving answers that serve only to leave them in more danger. I suggest we do all we can to back them and be there for them now, wishing we could have been there then. Lucky for us, they’re not holding us accountable for our failures last week, but they rightly will if we fail them now. Staring down death has given them maturity and perspective, but precious little more in the way of patience. Thank god.
Let’s not fail them this time.