A Letter From Parkland …

Today, February 14th 2019, marks one year since 17 people were killed, 14 of them students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  I would like to share with you a letter written by Jaclyn Corin, a senior at the school and the founder of March For Our Lives.  The letter was published yesterday in the New York Times.

Corin.jpgWhen I arrived at school on Feb. 14, 2018, like any junior, I was mostly caught up in Valentine’s Day chatter and events. But that all changed in the space of a few minutes that afternoon when a gunman opened fire on my classmates and my teachers, killing 17 of them and injuring just as many.

Despite the countless tragedies you see on TV, nothing prepares you for the day it happens to your community.

The familiar images of students fleeing their school as SWAT teams entered, of parents waiting by the perimeter desperately praying to get their kids back, were now my reality. They were my classmates and friends, too many of whom never came home.

After the shooting, my friends at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and I decided we couldn’t sit by as school shootings and gun violence became a normal part of life in America. We were determined to turn an act of violence into a movement, to do everything we could to send a powerful message to the country and to Washington.Parkland-2.jpg

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of the shooting. When I hear the sound of sirens or fireworks, I’m taken back to that horrific afternoon. For me, Valentine’s Day will now forever be a reminder of loss.

Yet our community isn’t alone in its tragedy. In 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died as a result of guns, an average of 109 people a day. And according to a tally from Education Week, there were 24 school shootings that resulted in gun-related deaths or injuries in 2018 alone.

While several states have taken positive legislative measures in response, there have been zero bipartisan investigations or new laws from Congress.

Not a single federal law has been passed since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 to address the crisis of school shootings. This year could be different — but only if we organize and insist on it.

Last week, Congress held its first hearing on gun violence prevention since 2011. This week, the House Judiciary Committee is poised to approve a bipartisan bill to requiring background checks for all gun purchases, a proposal that represents one important step toward keeping deadly firearms out of the wrong hands. However, it’s also likely this bill won’t get a hearing, let alone a vote, in the Senate.

That chamber’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, needs to explain to all of us who have survived a shooting or lost someone to gun violence why the Senate won’t even vote on such a bill even though there’s been over half a million gun deaths since 2000, the year I was born.

And Americans should truly reckon with why this epidemic of gun deaths is treated so differently from any other health crisis in our country.

Imagine for a moment that all these gun deaths were caused by something else widely feared: airplane crashes. There’s no universe in which we wouldn’t see it as a national emergency worthy of our undivided attention.

In fact, 2017 was a remarkable year in aviation. No one died in a commercial airplane crash, meaning it was safer for me to fly than it was for me to go to high school. It would take hundreds of completely full Boeing 737 flights crashing without survivors to total the number of people who died by guns in America in just 2017.

If even a handful of such crashes occurred, the government would declare a national emergency. All 737s would be grounded, there would be an independent commission created to investigate the crisis, and Boeing would be called before Congress to answer for its failures.

So why then don’t more than 30,000 gun deaths in a year rise to the level of a national crisis for America’s conservative leaders?

The past year has been one with the deepest of lows and, at times, the highest of highs — moments when the hope that springs from fighting for a better world makes anything feel possible. On Thursday, the anniversary of the shooting, I will be in the only place that matters, nestled in my community and with my family.

And for the next four days, the organization I helped found, March For Our Lives, will go dark to honor those we lost and their memory.

I am deeply proud of all that my friends and I have accomplished in the last year. Still, I can’t help but wonder why so many lawmakers are ignoring — and, at their worst, enabling — the horrific gun deaths that occur in our country each day.

Parkland-1.jpgIn the year since the Parkland tragedy, nearly 1,200 more children have lost their lives to guns in this country.   When do we say, “Enough!!!”?  When do we put the lives of our children ahead of politics and corporate greed?  The sign above says it all … “Choose Me, Not Guns”.

34 thoughts on “A Letter From Parkland …

  1. How many more senseless and needless deaths from guns, that become an anniversary such as this one, will it require before actual legislation is passed that addresses this American epidemic? This morning’s newsletter from The Trace includes a link to their “Since Parkland” series : 12 months, 1,200 American kids killed by gun, 1,200 stories about the lives they led, reported by teen journalists across the country. It is gut wrenching, heart breaking, tear filled, and still a must read article. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • P.S. I have just finished reading one of today’s posts from The Hill titled “How gun control activists learned from the NRA”. It does provide some encouragement that legislation may become a reality. Thank-you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It won’t happen until we have elected officials who care more about the people they are hired to represent than they care about lining their own pockets. And it won’t happen until we reverse Citizens United and take the big dollars out of campaigns. At the risk of sounding like an eternal pessimist (I’m really not), I don’t think either you or I will live to see it happen. Yes, I saw the article in The Trace, though I only skimmed the first few paragraphs. I will go back and read the rest tomorrow. While Trump and his sycophants claim there is an immigration crisis in this country, in my book there is no greater crisis in the U.S. than the number of guns in the hands of unqualified civilians.

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  2. America, and parts of Canada, have always had a soft spot for gun deaths. They worship those who live by the gun, and have no pity for those who die by the gun. They call it the law of the Old West, but really it is just the thrill of firing the bullet that tears into the body of the foolish person standing in front to the gun being fired. If they had not been standing there, they might not have died.
    A short while ago 6 people died of eating tainted lettuce. All the lettuce was removed from the stores. Why is it those same people who ignore gun deaths cannot ignore lettuce deaths? Is it because men did not invent lettuce? Or is it because lettuce cannot be sold for the same price as guns?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right … in this country (less so in yours, I think), there is almost a cult-like worship of guns. It’s an obsession. When we lose nearly 40,000 lives a year to gun violence and people still defend their right to own an arsenal, there is something seriously wrong with the people. I will never understand it. As you said, they freak out more over a single bit of tainted lettuce than the pointless deaths of their own children. I would love to someday see the 2nd amendment overturned, but I know it cannot happen in my lifetime, if ever. Sigh.

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      • It can happen, and as I always say, given enough time it will. I just don’t think America has that time anymore. And the world is running out of time too, to make those changes needed all over.
        Yes, sigh, but never give up until the giving up is done for you. LuLLLLL.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Like you, I think the world doesn’t have time left for us to piss around trying to learn, after thousands of years, to be kind to each other. I am of the belief that the human race will bring about its own extinction, and some days I’m not sure that would be such a bad thing. Sigh. I haven’t given up, but hope is dimmer than it used to be. LuL

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    • True. Even the majority of gun owners are in favour of some serious laws pertaining to gun ownership, but the NRA has many of the republicans in Congress in their pockets. Meanwhile, every day children are dying. 😥

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      • A couple of data points from a survey I read a couple years ago, noted that America had more gun deaths per capita than the other top 22 wealthiest countries in the world COMBINED. The survey noted Canadians love their guns like Americans, but their gun deaths per capita was 1/3 of the US. Why? There are lessons we could learn if we are allowed to study data and come up with solutions to test and measure. The NRA stands in the way of using data to analyze causes and solutions. That shows they do not want people to explore the answers.

        Keith

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        • The NRA has entirely too much power! And money plays too great a role in such things. We are a twisted nation when we allow the NRA to decide whether our children are safe in school or not! It seems that some independent group ought to study why Canadians have so many fewer gun-related deaths and publish the study … I don’t see how the NRA could stop that.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Simple math really, Canada has a population of 36 million, US 320+ million. Clearly US will experience more gun related deaths. Other factors involve pharmaceutical anti-depression, anti-psychotic drugs. US happens to be the most medicated country in the world. Guns and drugs, alcohol for that matter just don’t mix. Keith is right, Americans have some kind of weird gun fetish, for men it’s like a phallic symbol of sorts. For women, gun is the great equalizer.
            But without proper training and certification, I’m surprised there aren’t more deaths. More stringent regulations are definitely in order.

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            • Very true there are a lot of reasons for the US gun deaths. One not mentioned is a rider to legislation in 1996 that said the CDC will not get any federal funding to study gun deaths. Why? By the way, I cited a per capita statistic which adjusts for the size of Canada and US. If I recall this correctly, the US was about 12.5 deaths per 100,000 while Canada was around 4 per 100,000. I believe it was a JAMA study, but I need to dig deeper.

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  3. Jill, these kids get it. They have lived through the heartache, danger, fright, tragedy and more than few with PTSD.

    While they achieved a few things, they saw lip service first hand. A survey noted there has been a decline after an initial uptick in a desire for better gun governance. This is a slow build to change. It will take legislators losing elections when they stand in the way of common sense change. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is, I think, like so many things. When a tragedy like Sandy Hook or Parkland first happens, everybody is up in arms, calling for better gun control. But, as time passes and the event is no longer front-page news, people forget, other things take priority, and soon the hue and cry dies down, if not out. I’ve said before and still believe that until one of their own children becomes the victim, those members of Congress who are in the pockets of the NRA will remain loyal to the NRA instead of the people they are supposed to be representing.

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      • The NRA coaches politicians to say the following:
        – now is not the time to discuss while America grieves
        – this legislative action would not have prevented that specific massacre
        – it is a mental health issue, not a gun issue

        These are stalling tactics that NRA funded politicians use. The focus is to get over the crisis and settle back into a low or no action state. It is akin to a leading team stalling to end a basketball game. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

    • It is very sad, for who will hear her plea? Remember in the days after the Parkland shooting, how some of the students who stood up and demanded their voices be heard were demonized, even by the so-called adults at Fox News? Something wrong here, and I don’t know what it takes to fix it unless it is for the children of people like Mitch McConnell and Wayle LaPierre to be the victims.

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      • I do wonder if part of our problem might be the tendencies of the media to resort to sensationalism and exaggeration to get the attention the readers and viewers. History suggests that there have been awful people doing awful things since Adam and Eve. There are now more people and more media ready to pounce on the latest tid-bit and blow it up into something sensational. Yellow journalism seems to be contagious. It sells. No? Anyway, this is why your weekly reminders about the good people doing good things are so vital. We need to keep our perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ‘Tis true that there have always been people with evil in their hearts … or greed … or whatever drives them. But must we put guns in their hands? Other nations have the good sense to realize that those people can do less harm with a knife or a rolling pin, and therefore confine guns to the military and law enforcement. In the UK, even law enforcement don’t routinely carry guns. Sigh. In one sense I agree that the media tends to magnify everything, but then again, when children are being murdered … and when those murders could have been prevented … I think the public should have it in their face, for the voting public is partly to blame. But yes, it is also important for us to have balance, to remember that the whole world hasn’t gone nuts … only part of it! 😉

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          • The problem with widely publicizing the latest gun deaths is that they become a matter of course and people become inured to them — a process, I dare say, that is initiated by the violent games the kids play. I do agree with you that the fact that do nothing whatever to quell the growing number of those deaths is unforgivable. Such is the power of the PACS and Big Money.

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    • You’re right … as long as we have people in power who are more concerned with those NRA donations and keeping their A+ rating with the NRA, change will not come. I wonder, if it were their child, if they would see things differently?

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    • There is always hope, but in this case, until the NRA is emasculated, or until we institute campaign finance rules that prohibit mega-donors, that hope will remain just that … a hope. And that, under the current administration, seems a slim hope. But someday these young survivors will be the majority of the voters. Let us hope they can survive that long. Let’s hope we all can.

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  4. Many of our nation’s youth who are speaking out regarding the mass gun murders that we endure boosts hopes that change will come someday. I’m giving up on most of our Federal government’s “adult leadership”. As you noted, they live in a bubble, resisting change until it’s forced on them, focusing more frequently on staying in office, winning elections, and maintaining their wealth and power to the detriment of our nation, clucking and squawking, issuing alarmed noises, but never doing more. Sad how much of a caricature they’ve become.

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    • It is sad, and it is so very frustrating that certain members of Congress put their A+ rating with the NRA ahead of the lives of our children. As I told Keith, I think that they will wake up only when their own children become the victims. Maybe not even then … perhaps then they would argue for every child to carry a gun to school to protect themselves. Sounds absurd, yes, but we are living in an age of absurdity these days.

      Liked by 1 person

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