Parkland students are schooling America on how to fight gun violence

“I wrote a letter to our senator today,” my daughter announced as I walked in the door from work on Friday. “Thoughts and prayers without meaningful action are useless.”

It was another indication that this time is different. School shootings are always a tragedy, but young people’s response to the Valentine’s Day slaughter of 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School makes this moment feel different.

I’ve heard it in the brave voices of students. I’ve heard it in their outrage, and in their resolve. I’ve heard it in their calls to action. It feels different this time.

I live in Broward County. My daughter attends high school just miles away from where the shooting occurred. This hit close to home for us. And it was preventable. All the warning signs were there. The adults failed the children.

It’s the adults’ fault when kids don’t feel safe at school. We all share the blame— politicians and constituents alike.

I’d like to blame the NRA. I’d like to blame Congress. But we’re all a part of this. When we don’t create the conditions to make our schools safe for children, it’s everyone’s fault.

However, a new voice is emerging. A young and determined voice that’s challenging decades of adult inaction and failure. I think it might be our best hope for real, meaningful change.

The student voices we’ve heard from Parkland over the past week have been more eloquent, more forceful, and more provocative than the cowardice we’ve heard from Washington.

These kids are the voices of courage. They’re the voice of change. While we hear over and over again from our leaders that now is not the time to have this discussion, our kids already already having it. They’ve planned a series of marches and demonstrations over the next few months. For them, now is exactly the right time.

The adults have done so much twisting and contorting over the issue of gun control that they can’t even have a reasonable debate at this point. The NRA’s lobbying dollars have effectively neutered a generation of politicians.

The political paralysis is particularly cowardly in the face of such a clear voice from our kids.

“Just let us be safe at school,” my daughter wrote in her letter to our senator.

Really, it’s the very least we can do.

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