A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
Earlier this week, I was listening to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” a song from way back in the early 1960s.
I was struck by two lines in the song that now speak profoundly to the mass shootings in our schools, churches, concerts and numerous other places. The two Dylan lines that jumped out are: “How many times must the cannon balls fly? Before they’re forever banned?” And in the second stanza he asks, “How many times can a man turn his head? And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”
Dylan, one of the greatest songwriters and poets, released this seminal song in 1963. He was talking about the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement. Yet here we are, 55 years later, and not only do we still have wars and the threat of weapons of mass destruction—but the leader of our country and that of North Korea have us fearing a nuclear holocaust now.
Black civil rights advancements are in jeopardy, police brutality against blacks is still a thing and any lunatic can buy an R15 rifle or other weapons and then head into a school, church or nightclub.
The answer is not blowing in the wind. The answer is squarely with the House of Representatives, Senate and president. It is also in the nation’s state houses where, once again, Republicans are in charge and refuse to act.
After the Valentine’s Day massacre of 14 high school kids and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, you would think that President Donald Trump would call for a complete ban on semi-automatic weapons and easy access to hand guns. You would also think that the Republican leaders of the House and Senate would have immediately drafted legislation to that end.
Ditto the state houses—especially in Florida, where an entire school community is in grief. But no, that would be too much to ask. You would have thought so after the Sandy Hook massacre that took 27 lives, most of which were under the age of 8. But again, it was met by inaction. President Barack Obama begged—and pleaded for—sensible gun laws following that 2012 outrage. But he did not get the support from congress to change the system. The NRA owns congress and the current president. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio attended a CNN town hall in the community still reeling from the Stoneman Douglas shooting, and he could not give a student a straight answer about his NRA support.
“Look at me and tell me you won’t take any more NRA donations,” one student said to the senator. And Rubio would not make that promise. That young man turned 18 the day after he lost his best friend in that school shooting. He can vote this year. He should have been home grieving under the covers. But he and hundreds of others have to be out there fighting for their lives because the adults won’t do it.
School and church used to be our safest places outside of our home. Not anymore. Those places have been violated in the most appallingly violent way of ways. But for those who count on NRA funding for their reelection campaigns and count on the votes of constituents who oppose the banning of their precious weapons, the answer is, “No.” They can’t even vote on raising the age at which someone can purchase a weapon.
Trump’s compromise is to arm teachers and, in return, give them “a small bonus.” He also suggests raising the age from 18 to 21. Arming teachers is a ridiculous idea, and raising the age by three years is no better. If you have mental illness at 18, then chances are you’ll still have it at 21.
The first step should be to ban assault weapons. But the Marco Rubios of this country’s legislative bodies don’t have the courage to do enact sensible gun laws. At least one of Rubio’s five children is the age of some of the victims. Where’s his empathy? How would he have liked losing his best friend or a sibling to gun violence? Hopefully, he would’ve wanted to do something about it.
But watch out, you cowards, the kids are coming. Millions of our teenagers turn 18 this year. And they are engaged and outraged. They will vote you out in the mid-term elections and, in six years, they’re the ones who will be running for office and being the change they want to see.