Recently, I listened to an interview with a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, David Hagg. He said it is time for us to move beyond “thoughts and prayers” and enact meaningful laws to reduce the growing number of gun deaths in our country.
“Please,” he said. “We are children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your policies and get something done.”
His words hit home, perhaps because it could just as easily have been my 17-year-old grandson making this plea after his school had been attacked. Or worse.
Yesterday, I listened to the speech of Emma Gonzalez, another student who survived the Parkland massacre, as she attacked President Trump and Congress for their reaction and inaction on gun reform. She demanded lawmakers do something to prevent mass school shootings.
“We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semiautomatic weapon,” Gonzalez said at a rally in Ft. Lauderdale.
She berated lawmakers who take campaign donations from the NRA: “Shame on you,” she shouted, and I thought about Jamie Guttenberg, whose grandparents are friends of a friend of mine, and who lost her life in the massacre.
My five grandsons were spared this time, but one of their schools may be the next to be attacked by a school shooter. It’s time for the 70 million grandparents who live in America to protect their most precious jewels – their grandchildren – who deserve to be educated without fear in safe, secure schools.
Grandparents represent over one third of the population, with approximately 1.7 million new grandparents joining our ranks every year. Many of us are healthy and retired. We have the time and energy necessary to lobby for change. We can be a formidable force in the national conversation about gun control. We can effect change…if we get involved.
Let’s begin with something that Americans of any political persuasion ought to be able to agree upon: banning the sale of assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle used at the Parkland High School.
I am also asking grandparents to consider making time for three additional tasks:
• Email or call your senators and representatives – today, and every day – until Congress gets the message and acts. Tell them you will not vote for them again unless they publicly advocate for and support a ban on assault weapons. Email addresses and phone numbers are available at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov
• Educate yourself and share what you learn with your friends and families. At least, a dozen organizations advocate for gun control and post educational materials on their websites. Google “organizations that lobby for gun control” to learn the facts. Advocate at social events, at work and in the public eye. Let the world know that grandparents will not tolerate gun laws that permit just about anyone to buy weapons of war.
• Contact every grandparent you know and urge them to get involved in this “grandparents against guns” advocacy effort.
Finally, in an issue that all grandparents can embrace and support, while you’re convincing Congress to ban the sale of AK-type assault rifles, lobby against the sale of ammunition for these rifles so that individuals who own them won’t be able to fire them at innocent school children … our grandchildren.
Let’s not miss this opportunity to advocate for this long- overdue change in our gun laws. Let’s start this work today – for our grandchildren and for all of the grandchildren in our country … and because it’s the right thing to do.
(Ruth Greenberg writes the Grandparenting in the 21st Century blog for Community.)