Here’s a thought: The next politician to express sorrow over the slaughter of students at a school without offering any specific remedy should be run out of office, for cowardice and failure to protect American children.
Here’s a prayer: Let us remember to hold that thought for at least seven months, to the next election.
President Donald Trump delivered 702 words to the nation Thursday on the murder of 17 kids in Parkland, Florida – one of more than 150 school shootings over the past decade. Not once did he mention guns, or more specifically the semi-automatic rifle used by the mentally unstable white-supremacist teenager who entered a school with an AR-15.
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The president did order the flag lowered to half-staff. He should have run up a white flag of surrender. Along with a gutless majority in Congress, Trump is hiding behind the shield of “thoughts and prayers” while showing himself derelict of duty in failing to defend the lives of schoolchildren.
“You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you,” Trump said, in addressing the children of America. That is a flat-out lie, which is chewing gum to Trump. If the adults were really willing to take any measure to protect them, Trump wouldn’t have signed a bill last year making it easier for mentally ill people to get guns.
If the “people who care about you” really wanted to ensure your safety, they wouldn’t have led a filibuster in the Senate, as Mitch McConnell did in 2013, to prevent an expansion of simple background checks for purchasers of firearms.
If those “who love you” wanted to show that love, they would say something more than the platitudinous mush that came out of the mouth of the do-nothing House speaker, Paul Ryan, whose response to the latest mass killing was, “I think we need to pray.”
Since 1995, there have been more than 4,000 instances of someone rising in Congress to express “thoughts and prayers.” And since that time, about seven children or teenagers have been killed, on average, every day by guns.
Trump, McConnell, Ryan – they all have children of their own. But in their roles as protectors of many other children, who should be free to attend school without fear of being shot, this trio that controls the federal government is leading a bad parent caucus.
The kids know it – they get that people who should be looking after them are looking the other way. After Trump spoke, a sophomore at the Parkland school stated the obvious in an interview with CNN. “There’s no reason that a kid 19 years old that’s been investigated already, and not even a year ago, being able to purchase an AR-15,” said Isabella Gomez.
The gun used in Florida is similar to the kind of rapid-firing weapons used to mow down first-graders in Newtown, clubgoers in Orlando, civil servants in San Bernardino, and music-lovers in Las Vegas. In our country, a nation with a gun homicide rate 49 times higher than other wealthy counties, lunatics have easy and legal access to these guns.
The cops know the politicians are failing the kids as well. “What about the rights of these students?” said the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, in relaying the grim news of the latest massacre. “Don’t they have the right to be protected by the United States government, to the best of our ability?”
Of course they do. But the government will not protect them. The invertebrates in Congress and the soulless blowhard in the White House will not take even the most common-sensical measures to limit the use of militarized weapons by deeply troubled people.
Remember the outrage over bump stocks, the modification used by the man who killed 58 people in Las Vegas last fall? If you don’t, please remember it in November, at the ballot box. Congress has done nothing on this issue, but many states are moving on it, pressed by popular movements unafraid of the gun lobby.
Other countries act to protect their people, which is the most elemental duty of governance. After Australia suffered the deadliest mass shooting in its history, a massacre of 35 people in 1996 by a man with a semi-automatic rifle, the country banned such weapons. There hasn’t been a mass shooting since.
Let me try another take for you bad parents in office. Pretend you live in a pleasant, well-protected community of like-minded people, and you’re in charge. OK, you don’t have to pretend. And let’s say there was a natural gas leak every three days in one of the homes in that community, a leak that killed entire families.
Your response would be to pray and do nothing. Or to pray and talk about everything except the gas leak. Or to pray and say you’re powerless to act because the gas company owns you. The response of those suffering would be to take control and kick you out. That’s what we have to do, and will, in November.