High school students leading marches in the streets demanding gun reform have captured our nation’s headlines recently. They remind us that while adults have failed to stop school shootings, perhaps this new generation can — and that the right to live is more important than the right to own a gun.
In the wake of the tragic killing of 17 students and faculty in Parkland, Fla., these young people have re-energized a nationwide discussion about gun control, or lack of it, in the U.S. which has only 4.4 percent of the world’s population, yet accounts for 42 percent of the world’s guns and roughly 31 percent of the world’s mass shootings (this could be construed as an armed militia, but certainly not a “well-regulated” one as the Second Amendment states).
The fervor of these teenagers led demonstrations of nearly half a million in our nation’s capital and thousands in other cities and towns throughout the nation, vowing to transform fear and grief into a “vote-them-out” movement and tougher laws against military-style weapons and ammunition. Their demand for action at our local, state and national level movement reminds us of the student protests in the 1960s that helped bring about the end of the Vietnam War.
In Sandpoint, some 250- 300 people, led by high school students, turned out at the City Beach for the international March for Our Lives protests while thousands of others gathered in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Boise.
Supporters of the movement believe they have tapped into a current of gun control sentiment that has been building for years and that roughly 90 percent of Americans agree on common sense solutions. They plan to make gun reform the central issue for young voters — getting them out to vote in the mid-term elections this year. Already, the Parkland students are being credited with inspiring the first significant piece of gun legislation to come out of the Florida legislature in at least 20 years.
In their fight against the gun lobby, which controls so many legislators in our country, the students’ cry of “vote them out” may very well succeed.