Most students in Waterloo, Cedar Falls and the surrounding communities finished their school year last week. On that last day of school, sung out by mothers as their children descended from buses or dismounted bicycles, were the lyrics of Alice Cooper’s rebel-rousing song, “School’s Out” (Please, tell me I’m not the only one.)
Cooper, the “godfather of shock rock,” first bellowed out his band’s hard rock song in the summer of 1972. The musician could have had little idea 46 summers ago how the words of his song might be construed in 2018.
“Well, we got no choice,
All the girls and boys,
Makin’ all that noise …”
In the rash of school shootings, these words take on new meaning. Children still have no choice. But now the noise they’re making is serious, dead serious. Young people are rallying around an issue that has reared its ugly head throughout America — gun violence.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., (school shooting Feb. 14) have impacted the entire country by vowing they will not allow their 17 classmates and teachers to have died in vain. They are demanding change. They — can this ever be construed to be unreasonable? — are demanding safety in their schools. The movement they began, March for our Lives, and their unrelenting advocacy for gun-control legislation, is a start.
There have been more than 300 school shootings in the United States since 1990 (Wikipedia), and most of them you have probably not heard about. Unless a shooting leaves more than two or three dead, it is hardly considered newsworthy anymore.
Perhaps the acumen and determination to “do something” about gun violence would have manifested earlier if the 20 first-graders who were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn., (Dec. 14, 2012) were old enough to instigate change as the high schoolers in Parkland have.
It is adults, who vote for other adults, who make the laws. Adults are supposed to protect children. So the question is, are we doing our job? And if not, why not?
There are two reasons used as arguments to continue our “status quo” of inaction. One is it is counterproductive to be against guns, as “guns do not kill people.” No, obviously, guns cannot kill people on their own any more than a kitchen knife can stab the cook.
But we cannot grant people who will kill innocent people with guns easy access to them. We need better background checks, longer waiting periods, more accountability. Assault rifles are not used to hunt anything but people, and automatic weapons and bump stocks serve no purpose for civilians in any situation.
The second argument is we must “protect our Second Amendment rights.” Yet, in 1797, before the Constitution, before the Bill of Rights, before our now 27 Amendments, the Preamble to the Constitution was written, clarifying the very reasons our country was established. It is the bedrock and foundation of our country, its reason to be. We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common dense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
So, have we perpetrated “justice” when innocent school children are gunned down in their classrooms? Have we insured “domestic tranquility” by refusing to take any action? Or are we simply becoming more divided defending our “rights?”
And how about that “promoting the general welfare” thing? Or “securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity?” Too many of our “posterity” have been assassinated by school shooters. As far as “liberty,” the parents and siblings and classmates of these victims will never be free of that nightmare. The collateral damage is far-reaching: Since 1999, 187,000 students attending at least 193 primary or secondary schools have directly experienced gun violence in their schools. (Washington Post analysis, Woodrow Cox & Rich, updated March 25).
Littleton, Colo.; Newton, Conn.; Parkland, Fla.,; Santa Fe, Texas.
Waterloo? Cedar Falls? Janesville or Waverly or La Porte City?
Not on our watch.