I’ve always wondered how a criminal defense lawyer can outwardly defend the actions of someone who is, without a doubt, guilty. Yes, some might be wrongfully accused and everyone deserves the right to a fair trial BUT if you know, with absolute certainty (fact-based) that a person is guilty of committing a crime against another person, how can you defend them and let them back on the streets? How are you able to sleep at night knowing that they can do this to another human being?
This week has been a tough one in South Florida, and around the country in general. On Valentine’s Day, 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost their lives to yet another mass shooting.
I hadn’t been catching up on the latest news that day, so when I began receiving texts from out-of-state family asking if my niece was safe, I almost went into a panic. MSD High School is about 35 miles from where we live, so luckily my niece was safe, but I can’t say the same for the 17 souls who were taken way too soon, or for the thousands of others who are terrified of GOING TO SCHOOL. Does everyone realize how awful that is?? Do you remember being afraid to go to school? I don’t.
Last year, we received an automated phone call alerting us that there was a “situation” at my niece’s school. We never got the full story, but apparently a student had a gun and threatened one of their teachers. The school went into defense mode, where students were scrambling together to hide in corners trying to avoid what could have been a devastating outcome. SWAT arrived and videos surfaced of officers armed with rifles peeking into classrooms to make sure everyone was safe. Luckily, everyone was, but no one should receive an automated phone call from their child’s school telling them that there might be an active shooter on campus.
In 1999, I was a freshman in high school. Columbine happened. It was scary to think of something like that happening, but to us it was an isolated incident and we carried on with our lives. In my senior year of high school, they began implementing drills that forced teachers to lock classroom doors, turn off the lights and everyone had to hide beneath their desks. Even the drills were enough to scare us. Still, we didn’t have that fear of going to school because there hadn’t been a lot of school shootings at the time. At least none that made headlines like Columbine did.
Since then the number of school shootings, movie theatre shootings, church shootings, shootings at music festivals, a night club, and just everyday gun violence in cities like Chicago have increased and it’s time to sit down and really think about how to control it.
I’m typically embarrassed by any news that surfaces out of Florida because we’ve become known for odd headlines, but after the tragedy at MSD High School last week, I couldn’t be more proud of the headlines that are surfacing. A generation of kids who are thought to be glued to their phones and lacking communication skills are stepping up and demanding change for all students, teachers and families. They’re not asking for all guns to be banned, they are asking for gun laws to be reformed. They are asking for semi-automatic weapons to remain in the hands of the trained MILITARY and not in the hands of civilians. They are asking for stricter gun laws, where people with mental health issues can not obtain a fire arm. If stricter gun laws have been implemented and have WORKED in other countries why can’t we do that here in what is believed to be the best country in the world?
This leads back to my original statement. How can a criminal defense lawyer defend someone who is guilty? How can politicians deny an honest conversation about stricter gun laws to save the lives of children? To prevent them from living in fear every day that they have to go to school? To prevent parents from fearing that their children won’t make it home at the end of the day? The answer to all of those questions is . . . money. Lawyers get a hefty paycheck and a notch on their belt when they win a case, and politicians receive hefty donations from the NRA for allowing anyone over the age of 18 the “right” to obtain a military-grade weapon.
This is not a Republican/Democrat issue. This is a HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. I don’t care if the children’s parents are Republicans or Democrats. I don’t care if the children, themselves, plan on voting for either side. I care about them being safe and being able to learn in an environment that doesn’t scare them. Arming teachers is not the solution. Teachers are teachers, not police officers. We have to spend hundreds on school supplies every year because there is not enough funding at the schools to provide students with the tools they need to LEARN. Where will the money come from to provide every teacher with a firearm? Where will the money come from to TRAIN teachers to use that firearm? I can honestly say that about 98% of the teachers I had growing up were unqualified to carry. And when you arm every teacher at every school, isn’t that increasing the chances of gun-related violence at schools? There would essentially be a gun in every single classroom. What if the one of the teachers snap one day and use the gun on their students? What if a student is stronger than the teacher and overtakes them to obtain the government-issued firearm? That is simply NOT the solution.
My niece’s school is not the picture-perfect version of a great learning environment (by any means), but no one is able to just walk onto their campus. The doors are locked and you can only get onto the campus by entering the front office when school is in session. There are security measures that can be taken at the schools, absolutely. But without changes to gun laws, we are all basically sitting ducks.
I have never been more proud of a younger generation than I am right now after seeing the speeches and activism by students around the country, led by the incredible students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School here in South Florida. I have a renewed hope for the future knowing that these intelligent, strong-minded, determined teenagers are our future leaders.
To those of you trolling social media calling these kids spoiled liberals and spreading rumors about them being crisis actors, you should be ashamed of yourselves. As I mentioned before, this is not an issue of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Let’s be honest . . . all politicians are full of shit anyway. This is a matter of keeping our children safe by working TOGETHER to create gun laws that work to prevent mass shootings. No one is trying to take away your precious guns. But if we have to take a driving test, maintain car insurance and renew our licenses every certain amount of years, it should be 10 times harder to obtain a gun.
Listen to what these kids are REALLY asking for. And I mean, actually LISTEN. They are not spoiled. They are kids and teenagers that want their right to LIVE to be more important than your right to carry an AR-15 that killed their friends, classmates and teachers. They want to prevent this from happening at your kids school. Don’t let money come before the lives of our future leaders of this country you love so dearly.
Students should aim to obtain their diplomas. With the way things are going with the gun laws we have now, they should also be obtaining a certificate celebrating their success at living through their school years. This is the time for change. Their lives should mean more than a paycheck. Their right to live is more important than your right to play with a gun. Just be willing to LISTEN.