Students bring action to gun debate:
Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board
April will mark 19 years since two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killed 13 classmates and teachers, and wounded 21 others, before taking their own lives in a 39-minute shooting spree.
It was a crime that shocked and horrified the nation, launching weeks of speculation and introspection about what put these children on a trajectory of murderous violence. At the time, it ranked as the worst school shooting in American history.
In the years since, the United States has witnessed numerous acts bearing the hallmarks of the Columbine massacre — and Americans have grown increasingly numb in the face of almost incomprehensible carnage.
Some incidents commanded the nation’s attention — most notably, the 2012 shooting deaths of 20 children ages 6 and 7, along with six adults, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — but most have passed as flickering images on the nightly news or as articles buried in the middle of a newspaper.
Few of these crimes have lingered for any length of time or generated considerable debate. It was as though school shootings had become ingrained in the culture.
Then came the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a tragedy that claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers.
It was reasonable to assume that, too, would be a blip on the nation’s radar, yet another school shooting to be followed by another and another and another.
But the survivors of that terrible day — the teenagers who lost friends and mentors, the community that mourned the loss of sons and daughters — refused to let that happen. And on Saturday, their anger and outrage manifested itself in action.
In the streets of the nation’s capital, and in hundreds of communities across the country and around the world, people marched to protest the easy availability of firearms, the vulnerability of school children and the refusal by those in elected office to address either.
Aerial photos of the Washington, D.C., event showed a sea of humanity moving along Pennsylvania Avenue. The speakers there, including several Stoneman Douglas High School students, made a forceful call for stronger gun laws.
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