Saturday, February 17, 2018

Guns 101: What Trump says to Parkland parents - nothing of consequence

John Cassidy of the New Yorker asks: What Does Donald Trump Have to Say to the Parkland Parent Lori Alhadeff? The grieving mother of Alyssa Alhadeff has demanded that the President take some immediate action as a sign that this senseless carnage won’t be allowed to continue. Will he?

The answer is …


On Thursday evening, the people of Parkland, Florida, held a candlelight vigil for the victims of Wednesday’s gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Before the vigil began, one of the bereaved parents, Lori Alhadeff, the mother of Alyssa Alhadeff, a vibrant, soccer-playing ninth grader who was one of the seventeen people shot dead by Nikolas Cruz, made a remarkable and impassioned plea on CNN.

If you haven’t yet seen the video of the network’s on-the-spot interview with Alhadeff, brace yourself. It is very harrowing. But for anybody who gives a damn about this country it should be required viewing.

“How, how do we allow a gunman to come into our children’s school?” Alhadeff began, clutching a microphone in one hand and looking directly into the camera. “What security is there? There’s no metal detectors. The gunman—a crazy person—just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door and starts shooting. Shooting her. And killing her.”

As Alhadeff spoke, her face contorted, her body shook, and her voice rose to an anguished but determined cry. “President Trump,” she went on, “you say, ‘What can you do?’ You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands. Put metal detectors at every entrance to the schools. What can you do? You can do a lot. This is not fair to our families. That our children go to school and have to get killed.” At this, Alhadeff took a breath and tried, in vain, to compose herself. “I just spent the last two hours putting the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral who is fourteen,” she continued. “President Trump, please do something. Do something. Action. We need it now. These kids need safety now.”

If I were the head of a major media organization, I would ask my staff to put a simple question to every member of Congress, and to Donald Trump, too. “How do you respond to Lori Alhadeff?”

So far, the reaction to the shooting from the White House and congressional Republicans has been predictably pathetic. The President’s initial response consisted of a few tweets, a phone call to Rick Scott, the N.R.A. favorite who serves as governor of Florida, and a short, vacuous speech delivered from the White House Diplomatic Room on Thursday morning, during which he told the parents, teachers, and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, “We are here for you. Whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain.”

“Mr. President, this is your moment,” the [conservative New York Post] editorial concluded. “You can keep your promises to the kids and the parents and honor your offer to do ‘whatever we can do’ . . . It’s time, Mr. President to do something. America is waiting on you.”

From everything we have seen so far, the wait will be long and in vain.

While Trump and his complicit legislators fail to act, high school students took note and took to the streets. Huffington Post reports that Florida High School Students Stage Walkout To Protest Gun Violence. Now is the exact time to talk about gun control, say students from a high school near Parkland.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. ― They’re furious about political stonewalling, and most of them aren’t yet old enough to vote.

Two days after a gunman used an assault-style rifle to kill 17 people at a nearby school, the students of South Broward High School protested in solidarity. Just a couple of dozen miles down the road in Parkland, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was still sealed off as investigators pored over the horrors inside.

About 50 teenagers gathered on the street Friday, rallying around the common causes of gun control and school safety ― two issues politicians continue to ignore even though polls show most Americans support them.

Teenagers, armed with political signs ― and the occasional snack brought from home ― chanted slogans like “You are responsible!” and “Justice for Douglas!” and “Protect the kids!” as cars passed by and honked in solidarity.

Sara Rodriguez, 16, was among those protesting, holding up a handmade sign that read “NRA is a terrorist organization.”

"I want to end gun violence,” Sara told HuffPost, adding that she thinks adults and lawmakers have “absolutely” failed her generation.

“They don’t pay attention to our voice and we’re really tired of staying silent,” she said. “We are the future. We’re trying to make it but we can’t do it if they’re not listening.”

Shane Dale, 14, said his marching band competes against Stoneman Douglas ― and that the proximity makes the tragedy all the more real.

“It doesn’t feel like school anymore,” Shane said, reflecting on how the atmosphere changed this week.

“Nobody needs an AR–15 rifle for hunting,” he added, referencing the shooter’s choice of weapon. “We need to get rid of assault rifles overall.”

Ianna Seemungal, 17, fought back tears as she described her motivation for protesting. She said she was sick of not feeling safe and having a government that refuses to do anything about it.

“We don’t deserve this,” she said. “We need to be safe. There’s nowhere to be safe. … We can’t even go to school.”

When asked if she was worried about getting in trouble for leaving class on a school day, Ianna shrugged.

“No,” she said. “And if I do, it was worth it.”

These kids have more guts, more sense of right and wrong, than the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court. But they face an overwhelming juggernaut - the staggering number of guns in America and their protectionist defenders. Evidence on that point is in the next installment.

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