A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.


The student voices demanding action be taken to thwart the epidemic of gun violence in our nation’s schools is heartening. Their demands, grown out of the trauma of surviving an attack that killed seventeen of their own, give us a glimmer of hope that our political leaders may finally embrace their allegiance to the United States rather than the National Rifle Association. Perhaps more importantly and long-lasting, they may be the generation of Americans to come to terms with our societal fascination with guns.

I hope teachers throughout the nation are taking time to talk to students about this youth movement, offering words of encouragement and maybe a little know-how. I hope too that local teacher unions understand their self-interest in aligning themselves with students to mount the political pressure that will bring about sensible firearms policy. In my youth, the work of students and faculty contributed powerfully to the end of the senseless Viet Nam War.

We need to understand, however, that the change we seek will not happen in the short run. We can expect at most some cosmetic changes to the existing background law from the current congress and administration. But, if we are prepared to work over the long term to defeat the gun lobby, the outpouring of horror at events in Florida and the lack of an appropriate response from our President and the NRA puppets in the Congress may enable us to make some serious change in the fall. Conditions may just be right for a national movement to punish all our leaders who toe the NRA line in exchange for their money. Given our history, it’s hard to be hopeful, but I am for the first time in awhile.

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Guns, Guns and More Guns

As I write this, fifty concert goers in Las Vegas are dead. Hundreds more are wounded. Thousands are traumatized. And absolutely nothing will be done even try to bring the epidemic of gun violence in our country under control. It’s more than likely that gun sales will be up today and in the weeks ahead.

We live in a country in which a person can walk into a resort hotel with ten – ten weapons in his luggage, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and it’s all perfectly legal. It’s all perfectly legal. How crazy is that? How can anyone think that’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted our constitution? One would have to take them for fools to believe that. But clearly we are governed by fools.

The airways and cyberspace are filled with condolences for the victims of what is not the biggest mass shooting in our history. I just saw the President telling Americans that the shootings were and act of pure evil and how he and Melania are praying for everyone involved. Many people will credit Trump for being presidential. Yet prayers are too often a substitute for action. If there is any action here it will probably be to make it easier for people – even crazy people, to purchase weapons of mass destruction. Before the Congress is a Republican bill to make gun silencers legal. I guess they want to make killing more discrete.

It’s been clear for some time that a majority of gun owners favor reasonable limitations on the right to own guns. Nevertheless, we continue to allow the gun lobby to jeopardize the safety of the American people. Isn’t it obvious that we need to balance the right to own guns with the responsibility of the government to protect the people? Isn’t it more than time to get weapons designed for war out of the hands of citizens? Isn’t it more than time that we hold our elected representatives who have sold out to the gun lobby responsible for their unwillingness to balance our right to safety with the right to gun ownership?

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Freedom From Fear of Gun Violence

We don’t talk about AR-15 rifles as a weapon of mass destruction, but can anyone think about Sunday’s event in Orland and say that this military style weapon is not. It has become the weapon of choice of the crazy and zealot. Unless and until we choose to understand that the writers of our Constitution could not ever have imagined a single American armed with more fire power in an AR-15 than dozens of Minutemen with their muskets. Surely, the Founding Fathers were they to find themselves among us would recognize that the right to bear arms that they authored must be balanced against the advent of weapons so potent that they must be withheld from all but those defending our country. Surely, their voices would be raised against the Second Amendment zealotry responsible for a literal epidemic of gun violence in our nation. But, I suspect we will find gun sales up in the weeks ahead. When do we begin to talk seriously about the freedom from fear of gun violence?

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