Ethics & Religion
March 15, 2018
Students Protest for Gun Control
By Mike McManus
On the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shootings,
students held demonstrations in 3,500 cities on Wednesday bearing signs
with the names of the 17 victims.
In Alexandria, Virginia more than 1,500 students filled the T.C.
Williams High School football field as the scoreboard clock ticked down
17 minutes to honor the victims. Some stood while others sat, many of
them holding posters saying Never Again or Enough.
Across the river in Washington, thousands of students gathered at the
White House, but turned their backs to it since Trump changed his mind
about pressing for legislation to raise the age to buy rifles from 18 to
21. Thousands of other students converged on Capitol Hill, where they
were greeted by an enthusiastic Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Some students openly defied school orders not to participate. In Cobb
County, Georgia near Atlanta, the threat of punishment did not keep
scores of Walton High School students from standing in silence on the
football field for 170 seconds, honoring the 17 victims.
It is unlikely that Congress will respond positively. Although Florida
last week raised the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21 and extended the
waiting period to three days, President Trump abandoned his pledge to
seek national reforms after meeting with National Rifle Association
However, student pressure is growing and is earning a wide respect. N.Y.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, stretched out on the sidewalk as part of
a "lie-in" with students in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. Randi
Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, joined
Hundreds of students sat in the middle of 62nd Street for several
minutes before the crowd rose to their feet to shout, "No more
violence." Uptown, students from the Manhattan Center for Science and
Mathematics, a high school of 1,600 in East Harlem, streamed outside
holding signs, "Am I next?" and "How many children have to die?"
They chanted, "Enough is enough!" and "Hey, hey, N.R.A., how many kids
have you killed today?"
In London, about 300 students and staff members of the American School
walked out and gathered in silence on the school's sports field. "We're
very lucky," said Cameron Lynch, a 17-year-old student who moved to
London from Virginia. "My old school sent an email saying that any
teacher who would try to take part in the walkout would be fired."
Some of the day's most poignant demonstrations could be seen at schools
whose names are synonymous with shootings.
At Columbine High School near Denver, site of the 1999 killing of 13
people that seemed to signify the beginning of a generation of school
attacks, hundreds of students clustered on a soccer field. They waved
signs - "This is our future" - and released a bouquet of balloons in
red, white and blue.
Afterward, Kaylee Tyner, 16, stood next to Frank DeAngelo, who was the
principal when the attack occurred. She said, "We have grown up watching
more tragedies occur and continuously asking, Why? Why does this keep
For any serious debate to take place in Congress, it must first get the
support of the top two Republican leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. They decide which bills get a
hearing and votes.
A day after the shooting in Florida, Ryan said "We need to think less
about taking sides and fighting each other politically and just pulling
together." While Democrats are being more responsive to students, it
should be recalled that even when Democrats were in control of Congress
and the White House in 2009-2010, they didn't make gun control a
However, there are some encouraging signs. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is
working on a bill with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to raise the age
requirement to purchase a rifle to 21. He says, "A kid too young to buy
a handgun should be too young to buy an AR-15."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), said at a CNN town hall that he also backs the
banning of rifles and shotguns to 18-year-olds: "I will support a law
that takes that right away," he asserted. He's also reconsidering his
support for large-capacity magazines.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy have a bill
that would enforce better reporting of domestic abuse to the National
Instant Criminal Background Check system.
There is hope.
But much more student Never Again pressure will be needed.
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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