The Republican Party, led by Donald Trump, refused to take action to curb gun violence, even after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history happened in Las Vegas under their watch. With their complete abdication of moral leadership, it has fallen to everyday Americans to solve the problem.
The Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida mass shooting rocked the nation. Armed with an AR-15 style rifle, a young man entered the school and gunned down seventeen people in cold blood, wounding fifteen others.
Yesterday, several schools staged mass walkouts, with hundreds of students marching in solidarity with Stoneman Douglas and advocating for more sensible gun laws to prevent themselves and their classmates from being murdered by nihilistic monsters armed with weapons designed for combat zones.
It’s brave of these students to speak out to protect themselves, but they’re already hitting staunch resistance. The Houston Chronicle reports that Superintendent Curtis Rhodes of Needville Independent School District in Texas has threatened to suspend any students who “disrupt” school or stage walkouts in protest of gun violence. Rhodes sent a letter to families warning them and posted to the schools’ social media platforms.
“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved. All will be suspended for 3 days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline,” Rhodes stated. He added that while he is sensitive to violence, school is not he place for protest.
While it’s perhaps understandable that a school district superintendent’s kneejerk reaction would be to clamp down on anything that could disrupt the normal operation of the schools under his/her purview, Rhodes would do well to reconsider.
Young people should be lauded for pursuing greater civic engagement, especially when it comes to a topic which so directly affects. If more Americans were involved in politics we would see larger voter turnouts during elections. Our current national political crisis is due at least in some part to a longstanding general apathy in the American electorate.
Furthermore, it’s a mistake to so cavalierly ignore these students’ legitimate concerns. They live in a world where every school day carries at least the vague threat of sudden, brutal violence.
They should be allowed to take action to fight back against such terror. Rhodes is doing his students a grave disservice, and whether he means to or not, is telegraphing that he cares more about enforcing rules than saving the lies of the children.