“It’s not true. I am not a tool for some nameless adult.” That is what one young lady (aged 11) stated in her speech at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC on March 24th. I watched on T-V as the kids participated in the “March For Our Lives“ march and rally at 800 sites across the country, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Miami, and others. They represented an estimated 800,000 people marching for freedom from gun violence and some national media chains estimated the crowd in Washington, DC to be a million. They marched, speciﬁcally, to get rid of weapons of war like the AR 15 weapons on our streets.
I was impressed by the sheer numbers of young people and the speeches and diversity of the crowds. But I am most impressed by the fact that one reporter reminded us that White folks now understand what we Brown and Black folks have been going through over the years. The mixture of young folks march to highlight the removal of assault weapons, the me-too movement, Black Lives Matter, and accountability from our elected ofﬁcials.
Leading up to the march a few days earlier, children in various cities, including, Pasadena, walked out of their schools in support of elimination of guns and school safety. They chanted, “Hey NRA, how many kids did you kill today”.
At the rally, we watched young people carrying banners which read, “We need to arm the teachers with pencils and paper”, “Teachers need to be armed with a brain”, and “Books not Bullets.” One young lady from South Central Los Angeles said in a speech, “I learned to duck bullets before I learned to read.” “We need to be raising money for tuition rather than for funerals. “
The speakers included young people aged 8 to 18. One girl named Samantha Fuentes got so worked up that she threw up in the middle of her speech. She stood back up and ﬁnished her speech. That type of commitment has been rare. It’s what we saw with Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement resulting in the passage of the Civil Rights Bill, the Voting Rights Bill, and then the anti-Viet Nam War protest.
Another young person asked, “Are we going to arm teachers, Preachers, Pastors, Rabbis, the ticket taker at the movies, and the person in the Mickey Mouse suit at Disney Land?” “Where will it end?” It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that 5000 kids have been shot and killed in Chicago since 2006. It’s ridiculous that nearly 90 people a day are killed by gun violence in America. The question asked is, “Is that enough?” Why do we need to own so many guns?
The President was playing golf along with United States Senators and Congressmen who were also playing hooky. They are all owned by the NRA. And now we have student leaders like Elia Eastman, Emma Gonzales and others who spoke out on Saturday. Dr. King’s granddaughter, Yolanda, said, “Spread the word, have you heard, all across the nation, we are going to be a great nation.” The kids advised the adult Congressmen and women to put their NRA checks in the bank quickly because they are coming to vote you out and you will need the money for your retirement.
The students reminded us that we don’t need bullet proof backpacks. VOTING is the answer. There were no adults speakers. In her speech, Emma Gonzalez stood silent for six minutes representing the length of time it took to kill the seventeen students.
We need to all heed the request of the young people and we need to vote the NRA supporters out and replace them with people who love children and will move the battle non-violently ahead.
My wife interviewed our grandchildren about their feelings on school gun violence and school safety, and how their schools are addressing it.
When our youngest grandson who is 10 years old was asked, he responded that his school and school friends have said nothing, and since he doesnt watch the news, he did not know about the march. He is in a California school district with only elementary grades. The schools have no drills, and the teachers have no discussions with the children.
Our 13 year old granddaughter who attends school in the state of Georga said that her school recently had a “hard, lockdown drill”. They were told to hide and shelter in place. When asked about if the students marched, she said they were told the they would be subjected to suspension if they marched. Although some of her friends did march, she chose not to. She was asked how she felt about teachers having guns in the class room. She thought that idea was “stupid” because the teacher may accidentally shoot a student or the teacher may be shot by the bad guy. She thinks that no one should have assault weapons, not even the police.
Our 13 year old grandson who is in the Pasadena Uniﬁed School District surprised us by saying his school has no drills and has had no one come to his school to discuss school safety. However, his teachers have had some discussion with the kids. He thinks it makes no sense for teachers to have guns and most of the teachers think the same. His school did, allow the students to march, and he marched, as he said, “for the elimination of guns and school safety.”
Our 18 year old grandson in the Texas school system thinks it’s ridiculous for teachers to have guns. Since Texas is already a gun state, some of the students may have guns too. He imagines a situation where teachers may shoot students and students may shoot teachers. Security ofﬁcers came to his school and told them if a shooter comes, turn off the lights lock the door, move something heavy in front of the door to block it, shelter in a corner or closet, turn off cell phones, and do not talk. His school did not have a march, because the kids were on spring break.
We have three grown grandchildren (all in their 20’s). Two of them are still in college.. They mentioned that there were “safety boxes” throughout the campus where students may request help by pushing a button on the safety box. Other than that, they were pretty much on their own. All of them disagree with teachers having guns.