Editorial: Young People Can Make A Difference

Editorial By Monsignor William J. Linder

Since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14 that claimed the lives of 14 students and three faculty members, the young people who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have organized and spoken out for change to the nation’s gun laws.

While there have been calls for change after previous school shootings, there hasn’t been the type of mass effort that we’re seeing now. The students organized March for Our Lives for the cause, which took place March 24 in Washington, D.C. and had more than 800 local marches throughout the country. It’s estimated that 2 million people participated in the United States.

These students are fantastic. They’re not going to let the adults sidetrack them. And I think the adults are going to find they’ve met a good match. These young people are not going to give up.

What they’re fighting for isn’t extreme. They want to institute universal background checks for all gun sales, raise the age of gun ownership to 21, close the gun show loophole, restore the assault weapons ban and ban the sale of high-capacity magazines.

What we have now is craziness. We have no control over guns. No other culture in the world feels the need to have such easy access to weapons like AR-15s, which have caused so much harm.

These students aren’t opposed to the Second Amendment, as the National Rifle Association has suggested. They just want us to have some control over the weapons and who can have them.

The young people that are speaking out remind me of the youth who helped start New Community. Back then, young people developed a system for inspecting buildings owned by a slumlord in Newark and built a case study. Eventually, with the help of a Rutgers law professor, he was brought up on charges of tax fraud. He was taken down for his housing because the young people kept records. That was the beginning of New Community.

Older generations don’t always take teenagers seriously, but young people can make a big difference. The students from Parkland are using their words and actions to show the world that they’re serious about change. And they’re at an age that they can do something significant. Many of them will soon be able to vote and will look at politicians closely before casting their ballots. They have already questioned those in office who have received donations from the NRA.

I’m optimistic that they’re going to successfully bring change to America’s gun laws. If they can organize a massive march that brought out millions in a month’s time, I can only imagine what else they can do.

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