Students take gun control into their own hands

Tribune Staff • Mar 13, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Too often in this country the young and vital must lead the old and blind as fresh ideals and forward-thinking push at stubbornly held, outdated convention. From civil rights to women’s suffrage, fresh and progressive thinking have overcome the status quo.

Now, it is time for a conversation about gun control.

Nearly a month has passed since 17 students and educators were murdered at a Parkland, Florida, high school by a troubled teenager with an assault rifle. In those four weeks, survivors of the most recent attack on students, by a student, are speaking out.

We applaud these young people for taking their lives into their own hands by engaging in political discourse, and condemn those who seek to silence their voices due to age or inexperience.

We in this country are blessed with the ability to make our voices heard through elected representation and participation in democracy. For those too young to alter the polls, demonstration is the way to make sure your voices are accounted for in policy debates.

Without the input of their constituents, lawmakers and representatives are left to act based on the will of lobbyists and the status quo. With this in mind, no age is too young to take ownership of an issue.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started a movement by holding a press conference just days after the mass shooting to say “enough is enough.” They led the way by organizing a town-hall meeting with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and NRA officials, as well as addressing the issue of gun control in a listening session at the White House.

Students all over the country have begun organizing their own demonstrations. On March 14, survivors from Parkland have organized a nationwide, 17-minute classroom walkout at 10 a.m. On March 24, supporters of the movement will march on Washington, D.C., “to demand that their lives and safety become a priority.” Organizers of the march are encouraging those far flung from our nation’s capital to stage marches of their own that day.

We commend any young person who follows in the footsteps of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and other high-schoolers across the country in voicing their opinion on the issue of gun control and facilitating discussion on hot-button issues concerning our community, but implore them to so do wisely.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas provided a template for action through a lifetime of environmental and women’s suffrage activism.

“Don’t think it is enough to attend meetings and sit there like a lump,” she said. “... It is better to address envelopes than to attend foolish meetings. It is better to study than act too quickly. But it is best to be ready to act intelligently when the appropriate opportunity arises.

“Be a nuisance where it counts; do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics — but never give up.”

We implore young activists to heed these words. And to facilitate discussion with informed and carefully discerned action, and to resist backlash from a well-established pro-gun front.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky, Alex Doty, Josh VanDyke and Duncan MacLean. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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