In a historic day of action, more than 800 protests on Saturday urged lawmakers to pass gun control. In Washington, D.C., alone, organizers say up to 800,000 people took part in the March for Our Lives, which was organized by students who survived the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In New York, another 150,000 people took to the streets; 85,000 rallied in Chicago; 55,000 marched in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands also rallied in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. And 20,000 people gathered in Parkland, Florida.
Last year, one day after an inauguration, we showed up and marched with a rage that refused to go away quietly. As was evident all over the world even back then, we chose to resist, and demand change. Who are we? All of us! We are sisters and brothers in church, at school, at work, within the LBGTQ community, at Black Lives Matter rallies, and with the undocumented risking deportation from the very streets where we continue to march. If you are black, white, brown, male, female, or just simply have a heart, then please recognize the obvious: This is our time, not just to vote but also to be elected. Stand up! Lead!
My thoughts are the reflections of my life experiences. As to whether that is a life lived well or poorly, I will leave those questions and answers up to historians, critics, the general public and you, the reader. In that respect, while time permits, I will express some of my opinions. I think that 78 years in the game we call “life” grants me that privilege. Current events and conditions demand this of me. To jump right in, take “Black Lives Matter.”
I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. My fingers froze on the keys. I could not bring myself to recycle old truths. Something more is required. But what?
An Ohio grand jury has declined to indict the white police officer who fatally shot John Crawford, a 22-year-old African American, who was killed inside a Wal-Mart store last month after a caller phoned police to accuse him of brandishing a gun. In fact, Crawford had picked up an unloaded BB air rifle on a shelf, an item that is sold in the store. Newly released surveillance footage shows major discrepancies between a 911 caller’s account and what really happened.
In our current climate, it is increasingly hard to see how some of the alternating proposals flowing from these debates, namely, a “good guy with a gun” in every school or a generic “gun control” that bans all bad guns and gun accessories will be anything but a distraction from truly understanding and addressing the root of what is causing people to die.
I have no doubt that Dr. King would be mounting a nonviolent poor people campaign to end rampant hunger, homelessness and poverty today. Let’s honor and follow Dr. King by building a beloved community in America where all have enough to eat, a place to sleep, enough work at decent wages. Dr. King is not coming back. It’s up to us to redeem the soul of America. He told us what to do. Let’s do it.
General measures could move the cultural discussion and peoples’ behaviors in the right direction, whereas a focus on restricting gun ownership – except for people who fit appropriate medico-legal exclusion criteria – will probably worsen our cultural crisis, increase discrimination and police attacks, and increase the danger of greater social violence and chaos.