We were amazed by the strong showing during a walkout at Lebanon High School last week.
On March 14, more than 200 LHS students walked out of their classrooms and stood in a circle of solidarity around the "LW" on the football field to honor those killed during a mass shooting at a Florida high school one month ago, and to protest Congress’ inaction on gun violence.
We were moved by the ceremony as not one of the students said a word or even looked at their phones during the 17 minutes, each minute representing a person who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. That solidarity in silence speaks volumes.
The Lebanon Community School District administration — which remained neutral on the issue, neither condemning or encouraging participation — agreed not to discipline the students who participated as long as they remained respectful and stayed on campus. Several administrators, including Superintendent Rob Hess, watched the students in silence during the event.
Since the walkout, in part, was held to bring about a conversation about gun control, we are going to do just that. We expect that many of our readers are going to strongly disagree with us (please send us your constructive letters regarding the matter).
No one in any party — Democrat, Republican (or even Socialist) — is trying to ban all guns and take them away, as no politician has taken this stance. There are gun control advocates who often pronounce that (insert political figure here) is coming to take your guns away, but it's simply not true. We are not arguing for an explicit ban on firearms, as that would be a violation of Second Amendment rights; however, almost all of our constitutional amendments have certain restrictions on them. Most famously, people can't stand behind the First Amendment to say whatever they want if it will cause harm to another individual.
What we need is to expand universal background checks for gun sales and to ban the sale of semi-automatic assault style rifles.
We're less sure about proposals to raise the age limit for purchasing guns to 21, but we think studying the issue could be worthwhile. To that end, Congress needs to repeal the "Dickey Amendment," which has effectively stopped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence. While that amendment doesn't explicitly ban studying gun violence, it has had a chilling effect on the issue.
One common phrase against gun control measures is that if "guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns." But we're not arguing for making all guns illegal, just certain ones that were designed to kill a lot of people. And the "only criminals will have guns" argument doesn't hold up because, by that reasoning, why have any laws at all if criminals are just going to break them?
The gun control measures that we are arguing for shouldn't be controversial, yet somehow they are. All sides should be able to agree to some form of these measures. Perhaps that is why more than 200 students (many of whom aren't old enough to vote) think that they will be able to bring about change by walking out of their classes as part of a national effort.
Will these common-sense measures stop all school shootings? Unfortunately, they will not. But doing something to prevent the possibility that firearms will get into the hands of someone planning one of these attacks and taking away the ability for someone to buy a high-powered assault-style rifle could save one life and probably many more. That would show the worth of these simple gun control measures.
For more about the walkout, visit this website: https://www.actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/enough-national-school-walkout.
Agree? Disagree? Want to sound off on the issue? Letters to the editor may be sent by email to Matt.DeBow@lee.net.