Yesterday, a 19-year-old former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and pulled the fire alarm, drawing students and faculty outside so they could become easy targets for his semi-automatic rifle. He killed 17 people and sent another 14 to area hospitals with injuries. Students took shelter in barricaded classrooms, texting messages of love to their families while listening to their classmates and teachers getting gunned down in the hallways. The gunman was taken alive; the families of 17 children and adults weren’t so lucky. This was a tragedy and an atrocity, but I reject any notion that it was a mystery or an unpreventable inevitability.
I reject the notion that the price of liberty is living in eternal fear of what your neighbors are going to do with their constitutional rights.
I reject the notion that 183 dead and injured children between 2013 and 2015 are the price of liberty.
I reject the notion that any of our truly sacred rights are so very sacred that they must stand completely unregulated.
I reject the notion that adults should have unchecked freedom to make decisions that endanger the lives of kids who don’t have the power to speak on their own behalf.
I reject the notion that the only solution to school shootings is to arm art teachers and assign them the task of minimizing body counts.
I reject the notion that public school teachers get paid enough to be expected to act as human shields, no matter how willing they might be to give their life for their students.
I reject the notion that teachers should be given the responsibility of stocking their go-bags with tampons of the correct size to plug bullet holes in children.
I reject the notion that the world has changed so very much in the past twenty years that active shooter training is now a perfectly natural part of the school curriculum and not a terrifying sign of things gone horribly wrong.
I reject the notion that any “sportsman” would be excessively burdened by having to fill out a little bit of extra paperwork and waiting a couple of extra days to receive a device designed for the sole purpose of killing as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
I reject the notion that because things like trigger locks, gun safety laws, background checks, and other restrictions won’t eliminate mass shootings entirely, they shouldn’t be enacted at all.
I reject the notion that 18 school shootings in 2018 alone are the result of some mass epidemic of undiagnosed mental illness.
I reject the notion that our country devotes sufficient attention and resources to mental illness, and I equally reject the notion that that has anything to do with what happened 346 times just last year.
I reject the notion that politicians who accept millions and millions of dollars from the gun lobby have the right to offer their thoughts and prayers when children get gunned down in schools.
I reject the notion that a parent’s last contact with their child should take place on Twitter while the child cowers from a gunman in their school.
I reject the notion that it’s ever too early to start talking about these atrocities. I reject the notion that the only way to honor the victims’ lives is to never discuss how they could have been saved, and I reject the notion that such discussion is worth more than the empty air it’s spoken into if it doesn’t lead to action.
I reject the notion that no one knows why this happens or what do to do about it.
I reject the notion that we don’t know why this happens or what to do about it.
I reject the notion that we can pretend children’s lives are anything but expendable to us if we make noise about how tragic it is and then forget about it until the next mysterious, unpreventable tragedy occurs. I reject the notion that we can pretend their lives are important to us if we’re willing to sacrifice them to money and political pressure. I reject the notion that we escape culpability if we continue to elect and reelect legislators who bow to such pressure.
I reject the notion that wanton, unchecked death and destruction is just our new way of life.
I reject the notion that we have to live like this and our children have to die like this.
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