To all those Florida students who walked out, marched, rode the bus to Tallahassee, confronted lawmakers, rattled the governor, sat down with President Trump at the White House or braced Marco Rubio at a town hall on national television:
You’re making an impact. And you’re making them nervous, because you’re not going away.
They outlasted the backlash after the Pulse nightclub slaughter. The Texas church killings seemingly vanished from the headlines within a week. The Las Vegas massacre produced a flurry of angst about bump stocks, and then nothing.
Even the outcry after the Newtown child massacre in 2012 lost steam, sapped by brutal ongoing grief and political futility.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
However, there’s a key difference between the Parkland and Newtown tragedies: The classmates of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims were too young to take their pain public.
To those from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High who sat in the balcony of the state House of Representatives last week: You got a depressing but instructive civics lesson.
Republican legislators warned against the imminent dangers of porn, yet refused to discuss banning assault rifles of the type used to kill 14 students and three educators at your school.
You witnessed first-hand how lawmakers squirm and sweat when real citizens show up in Tallahassee They’re accustomed to glancing up at that balcony and seeing insiders and lobbyists — not angry, heartbroken kids.
Lobbyists like Marion Hammer of the NRA, watching closely, making sure her obedient minions vote the way she advises them.
To those from Stoneman Douglas High who got to ask House Speaker Richard Corcoran if he’d support a ban on assault weapons, you heard something illuminating:
He said No, explaining: “I think that if you look, it’s widely used in multiple different hunting scenarios. I know people who go out, and they’ll do boar hunts and use them.”
In other words, folks who like to shoot wild pigs with high-caliber semiautomatic rifles shouldn’t be denied their sporting fun just because crazed people use the same type of weapons to shoot humans in schools and churches and movie theaters.
One more thing, kids: Corcoran is running for governor this year. You might not yet be old enough to vote against him, but your parents are.
And to those thousands of parents — and students — who showed up Wednesday night at the BB&T Center in Sunrise (not far from the gun shop that legally sold the AR-15 to sick Nikolas Cruz), you accomplished something historic:
You actually got Marco Rubio to take a position on a controversial issue. That never happens.
Yet, in front of you and a large CNN audience, the NRA’s $3 Million Man said he would support the modest reform of raising the minimum age for buying rifles to 21.
Commitment didn’t come easy for our slipperiest senator. He endured boos, jeers and an emotional interrogation by the father of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who was murdered at Stoneman Douglas High.
While Rubio wouldn’t promise not to take any more NRA money, he agreed that 18-year-olds should be banned from purchasing AR-15s.Whether he follows through is something for you students to watch closely, since he wants to be the next U.S. president.
By the time he runs again, you’ll all be old enough to vote.
To those of all ages in the #NEVERAGAIN movement: Look how you’ve got these guys scrambling. Corcoran and his counterparts in the state Senate are rushing out a package to tighten some laws on assault rifles.
Gov. Rick Scott — an NRA sweetheart who’s running for the U.S. Senate — suddenly is working on his own grand plan.
After past bloodbaths, GOP leaders always bided their time, waiting for the voices of the grieving to fade away. Then they did nothing, and that’s surely what would happen now, if your voices began to fade.
But yours are getting louder and stronger, which is why these politicians are so nervous. It’s also why the alt-right is trying to smear you online, cruelly belittling those who survived the Parkland fusillade and dared to speak out.
They stoop so low because they fear the power of your words and tears. They know the whole nation is watching and listening when you call BS on our nut-friendly gun laws.
They see, too, that you’re not alone, that students and parents from coast to coast are rising, outraged and galvanized.
So, to your awakening generation from a generation that has failed, here’s the message: Don’t ever go away. Don’t ever be quiet. Don’t ever let these cowards wriggle off the hook.
The fight will be long, rough and often discouraging, but the price of silence would be unbearable.