Editorials, Opinions

Editorial: Keep pushing for gun safety regulation

By
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

At 10 a.m. this morning, students, staff members and community residents will gather on the Main Green to participate in the National School Walkout against gun violence. In some schools, the national walkout, organized by the youth branch of the Women’s March, will last for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the people killed in the deadly school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, exactly a month ago. This nationwide demonstration is one of the most high-profile acts of resistance against gun violence in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. It is also a reflection of the grassroots, youth-led movement that has emerged in recent weeks in support of gun safety — a movement we hope will bring about lasting change.

As the fallout from the Parkland shooting makes clear, it is long past time to take meaningful action on the United States’ epidemic of gun violence. Most Americans seem to agree: A recent poll from POLITICO/Morning Consult shows that 60 percent of registered voters support banning firearms from schools and colleges, 68 percent support banning assault-style weapons and 88 percent support background checks. Yet, despite the public’s overwhelming support for gun safety rules, our institutions — time after time, massacre after massacre — have failed to deliver badly-needed reform.

Frustrated with this legislative inertia, young people have begun to mobilize and demand change themselves, at every level of government. In Florida, survivors of the Parkland shooting have advocated courageously for common-sense gun reform, defying the insulting ramblings of conspiracy theorists, kick-starting the #NeverAgain movement and pushing the state legislature to pass an initial round of restrictions on firearms — an unprecedented move in a Republican stronghold. In Washington, D.C., student organizers have planned a March for Our Lives March 24, which could draw up to 500,000 attendees to the nation’s capital. And here, in Rhode Island, young people have taken their concerns about gun violence directly to their elected representatives. As one ninth-grader from Classical High School warned at a Feb. 27 rally at the State House, “People say we’re too young to know what we’re talking about, but I’m a young adult who has seen these shootings over and over and over again. … Don’t let us be the next Parkland, the next Sandy Hook, the next Columbine.” Later today, at 12:45 p.m., students at Providence schools have organized their own walkout to demand an end to gun violence.

The Brown community, too, has united around the issue of gun safety. Not only have students organized this morning’s walkout, but hundreds more have signaled that they plan to attend. And, by all indications, the University is taking this activism seriously. President Christina Paxson P’19 is scheduled to speak at the walkout, and just a few weeks ago, the Office of Admission released a statement to prospective applicants to Brown, writing, “You can be assured that peaceful, responsible protests against gun violence will not negatively impact decisions on admission to Brown.”

We should all be deeply proud of the initiative taken by the student body and University administrators to enable fresh, impassioned action against the scourge of gun violence in the United States. But we cannot afford to let this momentum dissipate; we cannot afford to forget the lives lost or the families devastated until the next preventable, gun-related tragedy comes around. In this watershed moment, it is up to ordinary people — students, activists, community members and concerned citizens — to keep organizing, keep engaging in tough conversations and keep demanding that elected officials enact real, sensible reform. We hope that today’s walkout on the Main Green is the first step in that process.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: Anuj Krishnamurthy ’19, Mili Mitra ’18, Rhaime Kim ’ 20 and Grace Layer ’20. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.