Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Trump listens; parents & students talk school safety

Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed a week ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, went to the White House today to be part of what was described as a listening session with President Donald Trump, the New York Times reports.

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The president reportedly began the session with a very somber tone: “We’re going to do something about this horrible situation,” he was quoted as saying, adding that his administration would be “very strong on background checks” of those wishing to purchase guns, and put “a very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody.”

But an emotional father asked, nay demanded, “How many schools, how many children have to get shot?” It’s a sad thing if a president can’t say—or tweet—the right thing about this situation, but it would be unforgivable for one not to do the right thing.

Mr President, you prided yourself on not being beholden to special interest money, on winning the presidential election on your own strength and not by the backing of billionaires. All eyes are on you as you take the next move and lead any kind of a charge to keep kids safe as they go to school every weekday morning except during the summer vacation.

Other countries have figured out what to do when kids started dying. Australia, for example, upon noticing that more young children than the country could bear were drowning in backyard swimming pools, enacted stronger safety measures for backyard swimming pools. It worked to a degree, but a lack of adult supervision and defects with pool barriers, namely missing fences and faulty gates, continue to lead to deaths, which may be unavoidable in total.

But there’s no panacea for gun safety or school safety, either. No one’s looking for a silver bullet here, just a step in the right direction. Putting up fences in Australia has helped reduce the number of deaths, though they are an imperfect answer to the problem.

As Americans, we take great pride in our Constitution, including the First and Second amendments—the freedom of expression, of the press, and the freedom to keep and bear arms. No one within reason is calling for an outright repeal of the Second Amendment, but almost all Americans, represented by you here, are calling for reasonable safety measures that will help us nip school shootings when they’re still just a bad idea and decrease a potential killer’s ability to elevate the body count within a few minutes.

Taking positive strides has worked with the First Amendment’s freedoms, and it has worked in Australia with backyard swimming pools. It’s time, here and now, for some American leadership. If you won’t take those steps, these teenagers will.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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