John Colson: Can Douglas High killings be the final straw? | AspenTimes.com

John Colson: Can Douglas High killings be the final straw?

John Colson
Hit & Run

Is this the one — the straw that broke the gun lobby’s back?

What I mean is, will the Valentine’s Day murder of 17 people at a Florida high school be the event that will finally result in some meaningful gun-control legislation aimed (pardon the pun) at ending our national disgrace of near-constant gunfire emanating from inside schools across the land?

Sure seems as if it is, given that a growing army of high schoolers have now joined the chorus demanding that something be done to put an end to these horrific occurrences.

I refer to the fact that numerous Florida students are calling for a nationwide march on March 24 in Washington, D.C., and other cities and towns meant to spur action by our local, state and national leaders to curb gun violence.

Two survivors of the slaughter at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — Cameron Kasky and Alex Wind — have been all over the web and on TV for days, calling on politicians to get off their duffs and DO SOMETHING, starting with rejection of campaign funding from the National Rifle Association, since the NRA is rightly perceived as the single biggest roadblock to sensible gun control.

In direct response to the typical gun-loving apologists’ claim that we hear every time this happens — that now is not the time to discuss such matters, out of respect for the victims — Wind declared, “Now is the time for action, for power and strength.”

And in the words of another survivor of last week’s mayhem, 14-year-old Daniel Duff: “We can’t waste this chance.”

The pressure is on all over the U.S., and even President Donald J. Trump has been startled out of his complacency enough to announce that he is “willing” to talk about stricter federal background checks to keep semi-automatic rifles (such as the AR-15 used by shooter Nikolas Cruz last week in Florida) out of the hands of deranged and dangerous people, young and old.

Of course, Trump had to say something more than his first tepid response, which was to note some 20 hours after the slaughter that 19-year-old Cruz was “mentally disturbed” but failed to even mention that a legally purchased semi-auto rifle was the weapon involved or, in fact, that guns were involved at all.

The president clearly was aligning himself with the “it’s too soon to talk about it” crowd, but the students and their growing legion of supporters were having none of that crap.

One of the more intriguing actions to come out of the shooting was over the weekend, when news outfits posted images of mobile billboards calling out Florida’s NRA-backed senator, Republican Marco Rubio, to get busy and to dump his NRA contributions.

Channeling the Oscar-nominated movie, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the three billboards formed a series of statements ending in a question, “Slaughtered in school,” “And still no gun control,” and finally, “How come, Marco Rubio?”

The billboards were parked outside of Rubio’s office in Doral, Florida, and were first reported by CNN on Friday.

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, there was a disturbing trend among right-wingers, hate groups and others in the NRA camp calling for vastly stepped up security at schools, along the lines of security at airports and prisons.

Is that what we want for our kids? To go to school each day in a veritable lock-down environment, where metal detectors are operated by menacing Homeland Security personnel at the doors, and cops are walking the hallways at all times?

I can see where this might lead.

Forget about driving your kids to school, all you soccer moms out there.

Instead, you will be ordered to put your kids on armored buses, perhaps at heavily fortified “bus stops” in every neighborhood, with armed guards in attendance at the stops and on the buses.

And at the schools themselves?

Let’s see, aside from metal detectors, the security state will want to find pliant students within the schools to act as informants against their fellows.

Imagine how the kids at Aspen High School might react to all this. These kids are smart, they are aware of the political currents in the wind, and they wouldn’t be happy with the restrictions; at least, that’s my prediction.

Instead, they would pick up the drumbeat already sounding across the land, insisting that the proper way to address this is at the source of the problem — the availability of weapons of mass destruction for any troubled teen with the smarts and the nerve to walk into a gun shop and buy one off the shelf.

That’s how Cruz got his AR-15, according to reports, though I have yet to see any news about the identity of the shop or its owner.

What possible reason could there be for our elected leaders to stand silent at this critical time?

Fear that the NRA and its minions will mount an election challenge and kick the legislator out of his or her comfortable congressional seat?

Concern that the right-wing tea party types will show up outside the legislator’s house with a rallying cry and perhaps some burning brands of wood?

Or could it be that our elected leaders truly believe that a semi-auto assault rifle should be part of every growing boy’s (mass shooters almost always are male) arsenal, and that the many disturbing messages that Cruz left on social media and other places announcing his interest in being a school shooter were just a boy being a boy and not a cause for alarm and restriction?

I don’t know, but it seems to me that any elected office holder who does not stand up right now and show support for meaningful gun-control laws should not be in office for much longer.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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