A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
New York Dr. Cesar Chelala
The recent school massacre in Florida, that left 17 dead and scores injured, provoked the usual empty expressions of concerns from U.S. politicians, most of whom receive millions of dollars in donations from the National Rifle Association. Emma Gonzalez, a surviving student, expressed the feeling of millions of people around the country who don’t feel represented by their elected officials.
In her speech to her fellow students, their parents and school officials, Emma said, “Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and the President can do is send thoughts and prayers; then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”
“Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.” The Second Amendment to the Constitution states: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Although opponents to gun control insist in the last part of that statement, they usually neglect to consider the first part, which states that “a well-regulated militia” as the holder of that entitlement.
The facility to buy guns in the U.S. surprises almost everybody coming from another culture, as is my case. “In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time.”
While politicians in the U.S. continue to enact laws that make it easier for anybody to buy guns, even the mentally ill, other countries enact tougher laws that make these events less possible. As Emma, says, “Because Australia had one mass shooting in 1999 in Port Arthur (and after the) massacre introduced gun safety, and it hasn't had one since. Japan has never had a mass shooting. Canada has had three and the UK had one and they both introduced gun control and yet here we are, with websites dedicated to reporting these tragedies so that they can be formulated into statistics for your convenience.”
“If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association….If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.”
In the 2016 election, the NRA spent over $31 million in the last presidential race. Presidential candidates, however, aren’t the only ones who benefit from the NRA’s donations. Representatives from both parties, although mostly from the Republican Party, receive tens of millions of dollars from the NRA. They will never bite the hand the feeds them.
In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump and American lawmakers repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses. Thus, they made it easier for tragedies to occur.
Emma ended her speech saying, in a voice almost trembling with anger, “The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS. If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congressperson. Give them a piece of your mind.”
Emma and her fellow students showed to have more guts than a meretricious Congress.
Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant.