The kids walked out of classrooms across the nation Wednesday to protest gun violence, but it's the adults who are the problem.
In this context, the word "adults" loosely applies to alleged grown-ups who can't or won't admit that an epidemic of violence is staring them in their faces like a loaded pistol.
The kids know this, but the adults don't. The kids say it plainly and directly; the adults equivocate when they aren't lying.
So let's say it plainly: The easy access to guns is the problem. The lunacy of being able to buy a military-grade weapon at 18 years old is the problem. The hammerlock that the National Rifle Association has on American politics and culture is the problem. The lies about gun control repeated by countless adults, as if all speaking from the same script, is the problem.
Calls for tougher background checks, stricter age limits, tighter controls on gun purchases by people with troubling backgrounds, bans on military-grade weapons largely are shouted down as attacks on the Second Amendment.
Here is another lie: Easy access to guns isn't the problem. Mental illness is the problem.
Well, mental illness certainly is an issue in America. No one would dispute that. But no other nation in the industrialized world is afflicted by a gun-violence epidemic like ours is. Meanwhile, other nations have citizens who suffer from mental illness. So if you argue the mental-illness-is-the-only-problem canard, then you're willfully ignoring an obvious part of the equation.
The kids know such suggestions are false. But the adults keep telling the lies, despite examples from other nations that guns can be restricted without the world ending for the owners of firearms.
Take Australia, for example. Australia previously had a gun violence problem. In 1996, 35 people were killed and 23 injured by a single gunman. Within weeks, semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns were banned throughout much of the nation. In the ensuing years, the government of Australia bought more than 1 million weapons of Australian citizens and destroyed them.
Australia now has gone 22 years without a mass shooting. Its rates of suicide and homicide have dropped since 1996 as well. And now for the next lie: That gun control won't limit gun violence. Australia has shown that common-sense reforms can make life safer for citizens.
So why aren't we having more productive discussions on this issue? It's because so many adults have been co-opted, bribed and brainwashed. Don't believe me? Then why won't we fund serious federal studies detailing the causes and effects of gun violence?
Meanwhile, NRA spends money big and small to push its agenda and spread its influence. The Bee's Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese last week reported that "the NRA gave about $1 million in cash and non-cash grants to school organizations and private shooting clubs in the Sacramento region between 2010 and 2016."
That money helps promote the illusion that "good guys" with guns can stop gun violence, when we know that armed police officers in Parkland, Fla., last month were unable to stop a gunman from killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Now our president is pushing the morally bankrupt idea that teachers should be armed to help protect students. Teachers have pushed back against the notion. And for good reason. The day before kids walked out of classrooms to protest gun violence, a teacher in the Monterey County town of Seaside accidentally discharged his weapon in a classroom full of high school kids as he demonstrated how he would disarm an attacker.
Three students were injured by the handiwork of Dennis Alexander, who is – wait for it! – a reserve officer in his town's police department as well as a Seaside councilman. Alexander, ironically, was teaching a lesson on gun safety as part of his administration of justice class. One boy ended up with bullet fragments in his neck. The school initially did not notify the parents about the shooting.
Alexander was not authorized to have a gun on campus, according to the Monterey Penninsula Unified School District. So why did he have a gun in the classroom? Why was it loaded? Why did it accidentally discharge?
It proves that if there are guns in the classroom, students will get injured. And what do you want to bet that African American students ultimately would get shot more than any other group?
The problem is the proliferation of guns. The kids know this because they are getting shot while the grown-ups tell their lies, take the NRA's money and love their guns more than the kids themselves.