Point of View: Eloquence in D.C.

Was it their suffering that had made them so eloquent?

What struck me most at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., was how eloquent all the speakers, who ranged in age from 11 to 18, were.

Was it their suffering that had made them so eloquent? That had concentrated their minds so that their aim was true? And it was true. For four hours we stood in one small green spot at the side of Pennsylvania Avenue, barely moving more than a few inches, four people (one of us an 11-year-old) among about a million, attentively listening. I’m glad I went. 

“Right/Left, It’s Life or Death” read one of the myriad signs, which pretty much summed it up. 

One gathered after the Stoneman Douglas students (and students from Los Angeles, Chicago, and D.C.) spoke, that things really might, after such a long period of depressing entropy, change — to wit, that people may no longer be able to amass caches of military weapons willy-nilly, invidiously citing “self-defense,” that there finally may be thorough rather than cursory background checks, that there even may be licensing and registration and mandated insurance, and that maybe no longer would manufacturers of arms remain immune from lawsuits.

“If you run over someone with a car, they don’t blame the car, but if someone is shot they immediately blame the guns,” a young counterprotester in Boston was quoted as saying in the next day’s Washington Post, an analogy that was not apt.

The chief purpose of cars is to get us from place to place safely. And, of course, their drivers must be licensed and the cars must be registered and insured. The purpose of guns, when not aimed at inanimate targets, is largely to kill or maim, or, at the least, threaten. 

Nobody was saying at the march, as far as I know, that firearms should be utterly banned — aside from the aforementioned military weapons like the AR-15, which, come to think of it, have no place in police departments, either — but that, at long last, their sales and ownership particulars be well-regulated.

Call it a revolution if you want, as Cameron Kasky, a Stoneman Douglas student, did, but gun control is not such a radical idea. The great majority of the country believes it’s past time that something, something effective, be done. 

Nor is it radical to propose that each school be adequately staffed with psychologists and social workers, that kids not be afraid to go to school each day, and that we citizens, at long last again, vote in healthy rather than in the customary apathetic numbers.