Grieving Uvalde: Young voters, this is your time

TW: School violence.

Columbine High School (Columbine, Colorado), April 1999:
Students grieve the death of their friend Rachel, whose car remained in the school parking lot. 12 students and one teacher were killed; 21 other students suffered gunshot wounds.

In the national grief that, for the zillionth time, envelops us after an act of mass murder at an American school, house of worship, shopping center, or other public gathering place, my thoughts return to high schoolers, college students, and other young adults. These are the people I have spent most of my time with throughout my adult life, as I’ve worn the vocational hats of teacher, minister, activist, and now, once again, teacher.

Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, Connecticut), December 2012:
Students are evacuated by a law enforcement agent. 20 six- and seven-year-old children, all in the first grade, were killed, as were six adult staff members. Had they lived, the children would all be on the verge of finishing their sophomore year in high school.

I often tell them that they give me hope for the future. On so many different serious issues facing our society, they “get it.” On gun-related issues specifically, they are the generation that has grown up with active shooter drills, school lockdowns, walkouts and protests, and year after year of gun lobby allies in Congress blocking common sense gun possession reforms. Their B.S. meter is more finely attuned than any generation before them, and they can smell the bullsh** in:

  • “We shouldn’t talk about politics when these things happen.”
  • “This isn’t a gun issue; it’s a mental health issue.”
  • “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
  • “If you take away their guns, bad guys are just going to find some other way to hurt people.”
  • “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
  • “An armed society is a polite society.”
  • “These things would stop if America just returned to God.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Florida), February 2018:
The 14 students and three adult staff members who lost their lives came from a variety of backgrounds. Two students who survived the attack died by suicide a year later. An additional 17 victims suffered gunshot wounds.

I find that young people can sniff out the fallacies in such talking points better than previous generations. That’s one of the reasons I ask every student of mine who turns 18, “Are you registered to vote?” Fortunately, most of them, members of the most activist generation in our nation’s history, say that they either already have or they will.

Thank God, because we older generations sure have stunk up the joint.

Santa Fe High School (Houston, Texas), May 2018:
Just weeks after the Parkland murders, eight students and two adult staff members were killed at SFHS, while another 13 were wounded.