By Deep Sran
The first email I read last Thursday morning was from a parent of one of the students at my school. Following the shooting in Parkland, she was asking about school security and student safety. I assured her we have the necessary precautions and drills in place, but there is only so much that teachers or administrators can do to prevent school shootings without help from Congress.
To stop school shootings, we must act on what we know: if we change gun laws we will reduce gun violence. All that stands in our way are the NRA and the legislators it buys off. So let’s make this time different–let’s make the Parkland shooting the tipping point that Sandy Hook and Las Vegas were not.
After each mass shooting–knowing there will be another one unless we change gun laws–I talk to my students about this uniquely American problem. After Las Vegas, we discussed how and why the initial outrage might lose momentum, as it inevitably did. After the Parkland shooting last week, I asked my students why the shooter always gets more attention than the victims, and why our representatives haven’t done anything even though the vast majority of Americans support gun reform. It’s this last question that students and parents now want members of Congress to answer for, as it’s clear Congress hasn’t done anything to reduce gun violence because the NRA and the members it supports subvert the will of the people. Americans want change, and only one special interest stands in our way.
As our current representatives have failed to do anything to reduce the number of school shootings, moral clarity and leadership about gun reform following the shooting in Parkland, Florida, are coming from the students and parents directly affected. In response to all the apologists who want to derail any effort to stop mass shootings, and all who would protect their guns before protecting our children, Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said “We call BS.” She continued, “They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence . . . They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.”
Since the Columbine shooting shocked the nation in 1999, it is estimated that 150,000 students have had direct experience with a school shooting, according the Washington Post. And since Columbine, Congress has done nothing to protect students. Today must be the day we decide to protect our children, our citizens, and our country. And we must not stop pushing for real reform until it happens. We can’t sell out, yield, or lose our commitment to stopping school shootings, as we have in the past. We’re doing something wrong and we can fix it.
We must stand with Emma Gonzalez, her fellow students, and all the young people who want a better world. We must call BS on anyone who says we can’t reduce gun deaths. History shows us that every day we wait brings us one day closer to the next school shooting. Fortunately, this time feels different to me, because of what I see students, teachers, and parents doing. They aren’t waiting for cynical legislators to take action; they’re working to give them no choice but to take action, or working to replace them. I believe change is coming, and we won’t rest until it does.
[Deep Sran, founder of Loudoun School for the Gifted in Ashburn and is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 10th Congressional District in 2018.]