We are all trying to deal with the aftermath of the horrific violence in Parkland, Florida, where 17, mostly kids, lost their lives and 14 more were wounded by a deranged young man armed with a legally-purchased weapon of war. Some, like high school students throughout the nation, are calling for more gun safety legislation and are planning marches to call attention to the need for us to do something about America’s rampant gun culture. They are calling for us to do more to protect our children.
Others are reacting with a call for more guns.
They are countering the simple analysis that more guns equals more gun violence and that easy access to weapons designed for no other reason than killing the maximum number of people in the least time will result in more deaths by saying that teachers should be armed. The argument is that someone armed with an AR-15 bent on inflicting the maximum body count before going out in a blaze of gunfire would rethink this plan for fear that an English teacher might have a .22 in her book bag.
Faced with the fact that the United States, which leads the world in gun ownership, far outstrips the rest of the developed world in the number of deaths due to gun violence, some respond that the only answer is to arm even more of us. This is the equivalent of finding yourself deep in a hole but continuing to dig in the insane hope that you will come out the other side.
But senseless as this argument is, it’s pretty successful. Faced with failure and blame, this kind of doubling down is seen by many as taking a principled stand. The pro-gun lobby and their adherents in Congress call any attempt to limit access to even the most devastating weaponry an attack on liberty. Faced with dead kids, devastated parents and calls for action, they are quite literally sticking to their guns. And in doing so, they are elevating the gun to the status of savior.
But more guns won’t save us. More guns won’t create a community where our children need not fear that the unimaginable will happen yet again. This will require a change of heart.
Local high school students are planning a “March for Our Lives” to be held in Seattle on March 24. These kids, too often in the crosshairs of this debate, seek to lead us in this change. Our job is to listen and fall in behind them. Their lives depend on it. Our lives do too.