Kudos to area students for exercising rights

Kudos to area students for exercising rights

THE ISSUE: Area high school students joined their peers on March 14 for a 17-minute walkout to bring attention to gun violence and to honor students in Florida.

OUR VIEW: We are proud of our students for exercising their right to assemble.

CARLINVILLE (April 5, 2018) – Seventeen minutes. That is the amount of time area high school students joined their peers across the country on March 14 to honor the 17 students and staff that were killed in Parkland Florida on Feb. 14. In reality, it only took the shooter six minutes and 20 seconds to kill those 17 people, their lives abruptly cut short in a Valentine’s Day massacre within a school. It made history as being one of the world’s deadliest school massacres. It is a record that the school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, wishes it did not have.

Some have argued that because of the number of students who were killed, or because of the affluent students who attend the school, students there have joined together to advocate for safer schools and gun control. Is it really necessary to debate the reason why students have banded together and launched a nationwide movement, with thousands of their peers joining them in a show of solidarity? Isn’t one life lost one too many? We think they have plenty to be angered about and afraid of, and it is commendable that they are trying to do something about this tragedy to insure it doesn’t happen again.

It is impressive to see what these students have done in a very short time, while at the same time having to grieve the loss of their classmates. Their national movement, Never Again, has garnered support from people of all ages and across the world. Their mission statement is, “Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of an assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”

Their March For Our Lives rally held in Washington D.C. on March 24 drew international attention to their mission and hundreds of thousands of people in attendance. The students are seeking timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence. Their list of changes include universal, comprehensive background checks; bringing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) into the 21st century with a digitized, searchable database; funds for the Center for Disease Control to research the gun violence epidemic in America; and a ban of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.

While we applaud these students for leading the way, we also acknowledge the fine, respectful and peaceful manner in which our area high school students walked out of school and observed 17 minutes of silence for the Florida students, while also advocating for stricter gun control. In some areas of the country, similar assemblies were not peaceful, nor were school personnel supportive of the students’ rights.

Carlinville High School Principal Pat Drew stated how proud he was of how the CHS students handled the situation. “It was their choice to participate,” he explained. Other area high school administrators echoed a similar sentiment.

Kudos to both the students who participated and to the schools for not standing in their way. What an important real life lesson in democracy these students had! Let us consider how each one of us can join together to assist them, whether that be on a local, state or federal level.