WASHINGTON – The millions of American students, teachers and parents who took to the streets this week and forced a national economic shutdown as part of the #neveragain movement said they are optimistic legislation passed by Congress to ban the sale of assault rifles will make schools safer, while many who participated in the national strike seemed baffled that such a mobilization was necessary to have their concerns addressed by their government in the first place.
The #neveragain movement arose from public outcry over the numerous school shootings that have occurred so far in the United States in 2018 and the spontaneous protests that erupted nationwide after the latest attack on Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The protests, which quickly led to a general strike and a de facto vote of no-confidence in the American public education system, was initiated by school-age children who claimed they no longer felt safe inside their classrooms.
“You would think even saving one child’s life would be worth more than 350 million people’s right to own any gun they want,” said Tiffany Blake, 48, a principal at Hidden Valley High School in Los Angeles, who participated in the protests, “but apparently that’s not the case in our country, where profit still comes before people. It took countless students ditching school and fleeing into the streets in fear of their lives with teachers and parents marching after them, and the entire economy on the verge of collapse, before the powers-that-be were finally convinced it might be time to pass one gun-control bill that might help protect our kids from unwarranted bloodshed.
“What lobbying effort could have such a stranglehold over our government that it would defy the will of the people — and common sense — by allowing the sale of a gun like the AR-15 to anybody who can purchase it, despite the fact it is clearly the weapon of choice in mass shootings? Thanks to the assault rifle ban the American public and #neveragain movement’s Herculean effort, our children at least stand a better chance of being able to fight or flee the next time a wacko ravages a campus, hopefully with a less devastating weapon.
“All that fuss over one simple bill. Sometimes I wonder who our elected officials are really working for, certainly not the public that voted for them.”
Republicans attempt to sell ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ vest before yielding to public demands
As the protests this week spread around the nation, top Republican representatives on Capitol Hill attempted to deter the #neveragain movement with a military-style ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ vest made with Kevlar-type fabric designed to resist machine gun fire and explosive shrapnel that would be sold to school districts across the nation.
“Students would be able to choose from several warm and fuzzy colored ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ vests in the lower grades that have elephants, monkeys, U.F.O.’s, and angels prints, to sleeker attire with solid color patterns for the higher grades,” said Kent Ordain, 53, a Republican spokesperson who explained the last-minute proposal to the press. “Students would be required to wear their ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ vest at all times, like a school uniform, so in case an attacker barges into their classroom with an assault rifle, they are more likely to be spared, and of course, if they’re not, our thoughts and prayers would be with them, hence the brand name.
“We’ve spoken to some of our corporate donors and one of them, Rocket & Gamble, promises to have a mock-up delivered to us right away.”
Ordain, who appeared sweaty and uneasy as he spoke, continued to make his party’s case for the distribution of the vests.
“It would be a win-win situation. Our gun rights advocates who lobby us extensively in Congress wouldn’t have to fear their high-powered, highly destructive toys being taken away from them, and parents and teachers and other level-headed adults across the countrt would be confident knowing their students are better equipped to endure any violent challenges they face at school without any need for changing our gun laws.”
The proposal, however, was struck down by protesters and representatives from the #neveragain movement, including reporters who spoke at the press conference.
“I’ve had enough with ‘Thoughts & Prayers,’” said Michael Carlyle, 35, with the Boston Herald. “I want ‘Policy & Change’ to make sure my child is as safe as possible at school receiving the education she deserves, not enrolled in a war zone. Why is that so difficult for you gun lovers to understand?”
Since the bill’s passing, the issue remains contentious, and time will tell if the ban on the sale of assault rifles actually reduces the frequency and carnage of school shootings.
“It’s a relief, and a start,” said Blake. “Now it’s time to return to business. I look forward to seeing students off the streets and back in class.”
Rebecca Tinsel, Feb. 25, 2018