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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

How Many Children Have To Die Before We Act To Protect Them?

By: Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on March 3, 2018

I just don’t get it. How can America’s elected officials watch school massacres and do nothing? Why do these young lives not matter? How many school children have to die before we act as a nation to protect them from massacres carried out by assault weapons?

February 14, 2018, was Valentine’s Day in America. It was also the day 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and adult staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. More than a dozen others were injured during this massacre. Cruz used a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle to carry out his killing spree.

The Parkland school shooting reminded Americans of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 six and seven-year-old children were murdered inside their school, along with six adult staffers, by 20-year-old Adam Lanza before he committed suicide. Lanza used a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle to carry out his massacre.

It also rekindled memories of the April 20, 1999, school massacre at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado where senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher. The killers also injured 21 additional people. After exchanging gunfire with responding police officers, the pair committed suicide.

According to investigative reports, Harris was equipped with a 12-gauge Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun (which he discharged a total of 25 times) and a Hi-Point 995 Carbine 9 mm carbine with thirteen 10-round magazines (which he fired a total of 96 times). Klebold was equipped with a 9×19mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun with one 52-, one 32-, and one 28-round magazine and a 12-gauge Stevens 311D double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Klebold primarily fired the TEC-9 handgun for a total of 55 times, while he discharged a total of 12 rounds from his double-barreled shotgun.

Political Paralysis

Since the Parkland massacre, President Donald Trump and members of Congress have done nothing to address this problem. In short, they don’t care. After all, their family members receive special protection, thanks to taxpayers. The lives of their children matter; the lives of our children do not.

The National Rifle Association, which supported the recent political campaigns of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, has made it known to these leaders that the lobbying group opposes any new legislation that would further regulate the sale of assault rifles. In Washington, the NRA has the political clout to kill any Congressional legislation that would make it harder for emotionally disturbed people like Nikolas Cruz to acquire assault weapons for mass murders.

For decades, the NRA has imposed its political will on Congress in a successful effort to dictate America’s policies on gun registrations and background checks. No amount of school massacres seems to loosen the NRA’s grip on Congress.

The NRA also knows that most members of Congress will sell out their constituents as soon as their right hand comes off the swearing-in Bible. Loyalty to constituents is frequently replaced with loyalty to powerful lobbyists and the perks they can provide to members of Congress (e.g., flights on private aircraft; VIP tickets to sports and entertainment events; campaign donations; PAC money; after-hours adult entertainment; etc.).

The parents of school children cannot compete with the NRA’s political grip on members of Congress. To many pro-NRA members of Congress, the victims in school massacres are expendable. For these NRA flunkies, it is easier to say a prayer for the victims than it is to buck the NRA by imposing stronger background checks on emotionally disturbed people who seek to acquire assault weapons for school massacres.

Takeaways From the Parkland Massacre

There are several takeaways from the Parkland school massacre. First, President Trump and Congressional leaders will not support any meaningful gun control legislation that will protect children from school massacres. They simply do not value the lives of school children.

Second, local school boards must start providing school children in grades K-12 with specialized survival training that teaches them the defensive measures they can take when a school massacre is in progress at their school. This training must be mandatory and conducted on periodic basis throughout the school year.

Third, local boards must also beef up police protection inside school buildings and around the campus parameter. SWAT officers are now required as campus security officers. We have them present at major airports across America. Now we need them to safeguard our public schools. These SWAT officers must on onsite at all times to deter a massacre and quickly respond to one.

Fourth, until there is leadership in Washington that is willing to tackle the disturbing trend of school massacres, these practical solutions are the best we can do to make schools a safer place for our children.

PHOTO: Parkland School Massacre Victims.

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