It’s been a week since 17 people were killed at Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. In that time there have been funerals, tears, and grieving. You know, the usual sort of thing that happens when over a dozen people are slaughtered by a lunatic in a school.
What’s not usual, however, is that the students of Douglas High School seem to be getting annoyingly vocal in expressing themselves about the matter. After past shootings, the survivors have generally been shown on TV as Grieving Victims (TM), which provides nice ratings for the evening news channels. These survivors, on the other hand, are getting annoying by actually speaking out against gun violence. Some have even started their own anti-gun violence charity, called “Never Again MSD.” It’s really quite inconvenient for the talking heads and politicians.
Some pundits, fortunately, have shown the courage to stand up for the second amendment. Dinesh D’Souza has been quoted by the Washington Post as calling this “politically-orchestrated grief.” Similarly, when these kids were shocked after the Florida state legislature decided not to even discuss anti-gun legislation, the same pundit said that it must have been the “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”
So, here’s the big question: What gives these kids the right to speak out against gun violence? After all, it’s self-evident that policymakers have studied the issue a lot longer than they have, and have far more experience in crafting legislation. What could possibly make them reasonable voices for gun control?
- The first amendment. The second amendment says that Americans have the right to bear arms. The first amendment guarantees freedom of speech. It’s ridiculous to try to defend the second amendment by denying the first.
- The first amendment (part 2): I read somewhere online that since many of these kids are younger than 18, they don’t enjoy the same right to speech under the constitution that adults do. Sorry, but that’s not true. No matter how old you are, you enjoy the same constitutional freedoms.
- They’re not overreaching. It is completely unreasonable that anybody would claim to understand the workings of gun legislation within the span of a week. Fortunately, these kids aren’t pretending to completely understand anything. They haven’t made any concrete policy statements – instead, they’re simply asking people to consider doing something about gun violence. I don’t think this is too much to ask.
- They’ve been shot at. When students go to school, they should expect to get homework, lousy lunch food, and the occasional embarrassing interaction in the hall. What they shouldn’t expect is to have 62 grains of 5.56×45 full metal jacketed goodness launched toward them at over 3,000 feet per second. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for students who have experienced this to say inconvenient things like “What can we do to avoid having 62 grains of 5.56×45 full metal jacketed goodness launched toward us at over 3,000 feet per second in the future?”
- They have the responsibility to act. OK… I’ll admit it, they don’t have any unusual responsibility to act against gun violence. Nope – we all have the responsibility to discuss this issue. Even yelling at each other is better than the non-interactions we seem to be fond of.
Let’s dial it back a bit. 17 kids died at Douglas High School, but an average of 102 people die on the roads every day. Though terrible, isn’t this tragedy insignificant in the main scheme of things?
Well, I guess it depends. If you’re looking at numbers alone, it’s true that we should be a lot more afraid of dying in a car crash than we should be do die in a school shooting. However, in the past, we’ve taken lots of steps to make cars safer for the occupants. Seat belts, crumple zones, airbags, and other measures have halved the per capita vehicle death rate since 1970.
What steps have we done to halve shooting deaths? Until the answer is “everything we can,” these kids should keep talking.