“I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciated everything you did for me,” a student wrote to a parent. As I read these words, endless tears streamed down my face. As the mother of two teenaged girls in high school, I cannot even imagine getting such a text from my daughters. It’s not only heartbreaking but it’s also inconceivable. No parent should have to worry about sending their child to school. No parent should have to question whether or not their child is safe.
Yesterday, when I first heard reports of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the shooter was still at large. My heart raced as I thought not only about the students and teachers but also my parents and other relatives who live in Broward County. It was a huge relief when I heard the shooter, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz was apprehended.
Thus far, the death toll stands at 17 with others wounded. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, “This is catastrophic. There are really no words.” No, there are no words. No words will ever be enough. We don’t need words, we need action.
PHOTO: Tom Brenner/The New York Times
Mr. President, during your recent State of the Union Address you stated, “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream. Because Americans are dreamers, too.”
First let me say, I don’t envy you and would never want your job. I commend you for wanting to make America great again. You are 100 percent correct. It is your duty. However, it’s not yours alone. It is the duty of every American.
Sheriff Israel has repeatedly said, “If you see something, say something.” He also noted in a news conference earlier today that this is not the time to worry about saving money but rather about saving lives.
He went on to say that people are concerned about their rights but he questioned, “…what about the rights of young kids that go to schools with book bags and pencils, don’t they have the right to be protected by the United States Government to the best of our ability. . .”
Yes, they do! So the question is what do we do about it? President Trump focused on the need to do more to identify and help those with mental illness. While I think this true, it doesn’t stop there. We do need more research to better understand mental illness and more resources to deal with it. However, we also need stricter gun regulations.
Someone with a history of mental illness should not ever be allowed to purchase a gun. What continues to amaze me is that many of these shooters obtained their firearms legally. In this case, Cruz obtained an AR-15. According to Peter Forcelli, special agent in charge of the Miami field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he purchased the gun legally and no laws were broken.
Really? A mentally disturbed individual who had a fascination with guns and posted disturbing images on social media is allowed to obtain firearms and no law were broken? I’m sorry but I wholeheartedly disagree. If no laws were broken, we need to change the laws. We need stricter gun control.
While advocates of harsher gun regulations fear for their safety, opponents fear the loss of their safety. While I understand both sides, something has to change. We need to find a medium because what we have now simply isn’t working.
Although regulations differ from state to state, here are three key points:
*You must be at least 18 years of age and must be a citizen or legal resident to purchase rifles, shotguns or ammunition.
*People who are considered a danger to society, fugitives or patients committed to mental institutions may not purchase guns.
*A background check is required before anyone can purchase a firearm.
So if a background check is required, what went wrong? Obviously, Cruz should not have passed this background check but did. These background checks need to be more extensive. We need to do more to make sure that these guns to do get into the wrong hands.
We also need more law enforcement, not less. Although it saddens me to have to say this, we need an armed guard at each school. Every morning when I drive my daughters, I see crossing guards stationed at each school. At times, these crossing guards are police officers. So why not rotate shifts with local police officers at every school?
My daughter Lia thinks a better solution would be to have metal detectors at every school. None of this comes without more costs and higher taxes. But when it comes to the safety of our children, I think many parents would opt for higher tax dollars. If anyone out there has other ideas, I’m all ears. My point here is that we have to do something. We cannot let this violence continue.
President Trump, you said we need to answer hate with love and cruelty with kindness. I agree. What we all need to remember is that despite these evil acts, there is far more good going on in this world. But we also can’t just speak empty words. We need action.
Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school.”
No, we cannot. But this responsibility rests not only with our government and law enforcement agencies, it rests also with every single American. Let’s please make sure something is done about this cruelty and violence. Let’s remember that good will forever prevail over evil.