To the students and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High — thank you. Thank you for standing up in the wake of a tragedy that has become too commonplace in our country.
Some of you believe that it may take until your generation is in charge to fix this scourge. I can’t bear to wait that long. I don’t think you want to, either, but your voices are helping us move closer to the day we can live in a safer country.
Your immediate and persistent outrage was and is spot-on. This should not be a partisan issue — both Republicans and Democrats are demanding change. But sadly, the Republicans that want reasonable change don’t hold political office. And that is why nothing gets done.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School former student Ariana Gonzalez weeps at a cross of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas coach Aaron Feis Friday on a hill honoring those killed.
(Charles Trainor Jr/AP)
After my daughter, Alison, was killed on live television on Aug. 26, 2015, I was outraged like you. I tried to reason with her congressman, Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Without remorse, he told me he was not going to hold any hearings on the 100-plus gun bills he had the power to consider. Not one.
In the November blue wave here in Virginia the GOP lost 15 House seats, holding on to their majority by a single seat. They promised a new spirit of bipartisanship. That promise lasted only until the opening gavel of the General Assembly session.
A sign on the fence around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where a mass shooting took place on campus.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The Republican Speaker of the House, elected unanimously, showed his gratitude by stacking every meaningful committee with a comfortable majority of Republicans.
Last month, I testified before a Senate committee in the Virginia General Assembly and witnessed a harsh reality: Republican lawmakers are not going to budge on guns. Not only did the committee vote against the bill straight down party lines, but they also voted down a bump stock ban despite tearful testimony from a young woman who survived the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School administrative employees Margarita LaSalle (l.) and JoEllen Berman walk along the hill near the school lined with 17 crosses to honor the students and teachers killed on Valentine’s Day.
(Charles Trainor Jr/AP)
A bill that would allow municipalities the ability to ban weapons from public places — a reaction to the hate march in Charlottesville last summer — was voted down despite testimony in favor of it from Charlottesville and Albemarle County law enforcement and Richmond’s Police Chief.
Afterward, I went up to the officers and said, “I’m sorry these gentlemen (Note: I was motioning toward the Republicans and I didn’t exactly say gentlemen) make your jobs that much harder and less safe.” The Charlottesville captain replied “I’m just stunned.” He looked it.
Alison Parker, slain reporter of WDBJ-TV in Virginia.
(family of Alison Parker)
I’ve experienced this behavior from Republican lawmakers for two and a half years. Despite the demands for action, they refuse to act.
Make no mistake — the only thing different this time around is that instead of the usual “thoughts and prayers,” Republicans are promising, “We’ll listen.” And Marco Rubio calls for a “task force.”
Front page for the August 30, 2015, New York Daily News features the parents of slain reporter Alison Parker.
(New York Daily News)
The translation is, “We’ll nod and suggest we study things, then Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump will stall for time, wait for this to die down in the news cycle, and it’ll be business as usual with the NRA.”
Take if from someone who’s been in the trenches for a while. Never apologize for speaking the truth. Calling out those who are willing to accept young people as collateral damage to the Second Amendment is not something that needs an apology.
Andy Parker is flanked by other family members of gun violence victims and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe as he participates in a rally against gun violence on the U.S. Capitol grounds in Washington in September 2015.
I was proud of the way you as well as your parents demanded during CNN’s Town Hall meeting that Rubio answer for his failure to act on bills that could save lives.
If I can offer some advice, here it is:
Keep calling out Republican lawmakers, but concentrate on participating in the fall election to get Democrats elected. They are no longer afraid of running on the gun violence issue, which was the number two concern for voters in Virginia. Many of you can’t vote yet, but you can influence and encourage people who can.
Don’t hold back. Two years ago in the national media, I called the NRA a terrorist organization and politicians who take money from them traitors. I still stand by those statements and I’m right there with you on your “No BS” mantra — just like Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Demand change. Call “BS” on anyone who suggests that what happened to us is the “price of freedom and democracy.” Your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness take precedence over the right to own assault weapons.
Thank you all so much for your bravery. Stay strong, and be relentless. Even most gun owners want what we want: To end this madness.
Parker’s daughter Alison was a Virginia television reporter shot to death on live TV in August 2015.
Source: Ny Daily News