Parents and teachers: Use your power to get assault weapons banned

April 3, 2023 5:45 am

(Photo by Andrii Koval/iStock Images)

Parents have the right to drop off or send their children to safe schools.

Teachers have the right to educate them in safe classrooms.

Their rights are just as important as the rights of gun owners, if not more so.

So where is the outcry for the rights of parents and teachers?

Here we are dealing with the aftermath of another school shooting where children, unsuspecting teachers and other school personnel have been violently murdered or maimed by a military-style weapon.

How long will we remember those lost in the Nashville school shooting? Will it last only until another dramatic headline replaces it and captures our attention?

During the last five years, there have been 157 school shootings — including 51 last year. Sadly, there have been 13 already this year with 23 people killed or injured.

When breaking news occurs after or in the midst of a school shooting, we may be stunned and heartbroken as the painful coverage and reportage unfold, as the analyses and comments are gathered.

Then we hear the mixture of common refrains from legislators and citizens alike.

From one side we hear: Something must be done to pass legislation to ban assault military-style weapons. They have no place in the hands of civilians. Congress must do something.

We also hear a call for better regulations of gun sales, better background checks, monitoring and sharing of data when it comes to gun ownership.

From the other side we hear: Banning assault weapons is an infringement on our 2nd Amendment rights. That military-style weapons are not the problem, but mental health issues are instead. Or, criminals are the problem. Nothing can be done.

In the meantime, no meaningful solutions seem to be on the horizon.

When more and more children are dying from school shootings, how can we as a society find that acceptable? Since 1970, there have been over 1900 school shootings, with more than 600 deaths, 1800 injured, with the highest number of shootings occurring in 2018.

Why can’t America protect her school children? Why won’t those who have been given the power to do something about it still refuse to do it, steadily ignoring the sentiment of the majority of the citizens who put them there?

A majority of Americans support banning assault weapons.

From 1994 to 2004, when a ban of assault weapons was enforced, there were far fewer mass shootings. Since the ban expired, there has been a notable increase, with the greatest increase in recent years.

The data is clear.

There are many reasons that this is true. The proliferation of guns in the population is the major one. America has more guns circulating than there are people.

We tend to want to have our cake and eat it, too.

Legislators in Congress and across the states — while claiming that mass gun violence is a mental health issue or criminal issue — still refuse to provide sufficient mental health resources and services, or refuse to regulate gun sales controls and monitoring to minimize access by the mentally ill or criminally inclined.

They also refused to pass any meaningful gun control measures.

In the meantime, the most helpless and vulnerable among us are falling victim to random gun violence. All because of the hapless and cowardice behavior of those in power to do something about it.

Excuses abound.

But for those who are suffering the most, who constantly remain in harms way, the solution is also in their hands.

What options are left to protect our children and teachers from being massacred by military assault-style weapons?

The roles and responsibilities of parents and teachers are pivotal and indispensable when it comes to the quality of lives of children, the types of adults they become, what is passed down to future generations to advance the health and well-being of society.

Parents and teachers unite to get assault weapons banned. You have the numbers. You have the power.

What would members of Congress and state legislatures do if teachers decided to walk out of classrooms in mass until legislation is passed to stop the sale of assault weapon? Demand that buy-back programs be put in place to get these guns off the streets?

What if demands that screening programs be put in place to minimize the sale of guns, of any kind, to people suffering from mentally illness or those with criminal backgrounds? That there be universal sharing of gun data across jurisdictions?

Imagine the power if concerned parents joined teachers in putting pressure on state and Congressional legislators to get these measures passed.

Concerned parents, along with Parent and Teachers Associations (PTAs) can bombard their legislators with letters, telephone calls and other means available to them to demand that something be done.

Abating and stopping mass gun violence is a complicated issue. While there may not be a solution to get rid of all mass gun violence, it certainly can be significantly reduced.

The United States has more mass gun shootings in schools than all other industrialized nations in the world combined. What a tragedy. It is inexcusable.

If current elected officials do not have the will or courage to stop children and teachers from being sitting targets of a sane or deranged mass shooter, then it is time for parents and teachers to stand and take matters into their own hands.

Demand that your legislators pass and implements measures to address all the aspects of the mass gun violence epidemic in this country, or vote them out of office.

Parents and teachers must become prepared to mount a sustained effort until a change comes. The 2024 elections provide great opportunities. But you can start today.

Together, teachers and concerned parents have tremendous power.

It is past time to mobilize it.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis

Janice Ellis has lived and worked in Missouri for more than three decades, analyzing educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. Her commentary has appeared in The Kansas City Star, community newspapers, on radio and now online. She is the author of two award-winning books: From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream (2018) and Shaping Public Opinion: How Real Advocacy Journalism™ Should be Practiced (2021). Ellis holds a Ph.D. in communication arts, and two Master of Arts degrees, one in communications arts and a second in political science, all from the University of Wisconsin.