I will never forget the small, high-pitched voice behind me in the crowd of thousands that tirelessly chanted, “enough is enough.” When chanting had become fatiguing for the adults, that little voice kept going, kept chanting, kept the momentum until the surrounding adults again joined in. The voice didn’t seem to falter or tire; it kept going like the little engine that could. That sweet, brave voice belonged to an elementary-aged child who walked behind me at the March For Our Lives in Salt Lake City a couple months ago in response to the shooting in Parkland, Florida. As a parent of two small children, I struggled to listen to that voice without becoming overwhelmed by emotion.
“Enough is enough” is the chant, the hashtag, and the slogan of the March For Our Lives. It is the call of children and the adults who teach and love them; it is a proclamation that now is the time for new solutions to ending gun violence; it is a demand to end the alarmingly regular slaughter of our people.
And now we’re faced with another shooting, just four months after Parkland. More dead kids, this time in Santa Fe, Texas.
The responses to calls for sensible gun reform from special interest groups are both nauseating and puzzling. Take, for example, the Utah Shooting Sports Council. They sent out an email a couple months ago which included a post from Tom Gresham, host of the national pro-gun radio program, “Tom Greshman’s Gun Talk.” In response to the March for Our Lives, Gresham said, “Clearly, a bunch of high school kids didn’t put together events all over the country. What was revealed [by the marches] is how the Bloomberg millions have been spent and what we now face.”
One piece of evidence for the assertion that MFOL students are simply puppets in a game being played by Bloomberg-esque billionaires was the retelling of a story about teens in Washington D.C. at the march. The linchpin of this story’s evidence: groups of students going into restaurants were carrying cash that had been stapled together. Gresham’s argument, adopted by the Utah Shooting Sports Council, was that “someone” had to have raised and organized that money, and it couldn’t possibly have been a group of teenagers… or their teachers… or their parents… because only the super-wealthy are capable of splitting up cash into piles of $15 and stapling it together.
A more recent example of the Utah Shooting Sports Council’s outrageous stances comes from gun rights lobbyist and USSC Chair, Clark Aposhian. In response to Utah Democratic legislators opening bill files that address gun violence, Aposhian said he’s generally against “any legislation that’s based on something that’s not an actual problem but an emotional response to something that is otherwise legal.” As if being emotional about the epidemic of violent deaths among our youth is a bad thing.
He continued by saying that he would support legislation as long as it would address “all dangerous things,” including bleach and other dangerous but common chemicals. Any legislation that fails to include these dangerous items puts an “overemphasis” on the threat posed by guns.
Okay, sure. Maybe if people start killing classrooms full of children with bleach, we’ll start passing laws to address it.
Aposhian’s own history with firearms is not a blemishless one. Five years ago, police made him surrender his weapon following a domestic incident, after which he was charged with domestic violence in the presence of a child. That same year, Aposhian–at the time a gun safety instructor–had an assault rifle stolen from his car while it was parked in front of his home. He currently sits on the newly-formed Utah School Safety Commission which was created in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting and seeks to address school safety in the age of school shootings.
Gresham, Aposhian, and the USSC are going to be incredibly surprised when these amazing teen organizers, many of them here in Utah, start voting. Perhaps then they’ll understand that young people are not only smart enough to raise money and staple it together, but are also organized enough to bring change to the dysfunction we’ve thrust upon them.