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The children shall lead them

After the massacre of 17 students and adults at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, an affluent suburb of Miami, survivors and students wasted no time in calling for action. The students demanded action from Congress and the president to stop senseless mass killing sby gun.

The call for action has swept the nation like a prairie fire. Douglas High School student activists have called on their peers around the nation to also demand action from state and federal legislators.

So far two events have been planned: the National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14, and the March of Our Lives on Saturday, March 24.

As some are pointing out, the shooting in Parkland may prove a turning point in the gun control debate. Why? The survivors of Sandy Hook in Connecticut were too young to even conceive of a protest. The survivors of the Las Vegas massacre were varied and not part of a homogenous group that could communicate something like a protest.

The survivors in Parkland have something in common: they are all students at the same high school. It is easier to rally with and share a message with one’s peers.

The students in Parkland (and across the nation) are saavy enough to use the megaphone in front of them. The students who spoke on newscasts the day of the shooting proved to be articulate, knowledgeable and passionate. Our children have learned well.

We should cheer the students in Parkland and elsewhere who are taking a stand and protesting for changes in gun laws. When you see your friend or teacher shot down in cold blood, you have credibility when you demand action on guns. Some are saying the student activists are being riled up and led by outside groups. You know that is not true when you see interviews with students who had no time to get any coaching from outsiders before talking to news reporters.

The United States has a proud tradition of civil protest and civil disobidience. When our high school students take this route it is a teaching moment for us adults: our children have been watching and listening all the time.

What do these students want to accomplish? None are advocating an outright ban of guns. They want to see actions that are supported by a majority of Americans: background checks on any purchase, limiting or banning assault gun weapons, banning of bump stocks. None of those actions, if enacted, would take a gun away from an owner.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is a tragedy and we shouldn’t have to go through something like that again. The student’s rallying cry is “Enough is enough.” It’s a cry that should be taken up by those who represent us on the local and federal level. If adults won’t lead on this issue, then  we may not have a choice but to let the children lead us.