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Brave students ask for help

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Manheimer said she was a member of the Mayors’ Coalition against Illegal Guns, “because there is not an organization that’s opposed to legal guns, and I assume that is because of the political tension around this issue. I hope that Congress would act immediately to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons. For me personally, that is not a difficult decision, and if it were me personally, I would go further than that. Given the conversation that’s happening in this country right now, that we can’t even seem to get to this point, I felt it would be good for Asheville City Council to make their opinion known.”

The floor was opened for public comment, and Will Thibodeau suggested council talk to the school board about implementing the same measures council takes to protect itself. There is one public port of entry to city hall, and people must go through a metal detector. At the door of the council chambers, they are greeted by one or two police officers, and two other officers are stationed in the chambers.

Charlene Thibodeau conceded the solution would be more difficult than implementing more laws. She said even if government confiscated all the guns, “violence among us will find a way to hurt us.” She urged council to act, but said the solution would consist in the integration of many measures. Part of the problem was government and pundits at higher levels, trying to fix everything with a single answer, “and calling people who don’t like our one answer bad names.”

Three students from TC Roberson also addressed council. As members of the student community, they offered first-hand accounts of the fear in which they live. They were born into a culture where school massacres are routine. Schools go on lockdown on a regular basis. Students panic when a door behind them accidentally opens.

They offered the same solutions generally expressed in mass media: raising the legal age for buying a gun from 18 to 21, imposing a 10-day waiting period to prevent applicants from acting on impulse, tightening background checks to include school disciplinary records and mental health exams, strengthening school security, and eventually banning all weapons of war as they are not necessary for self-defense. “Clearly, Congress will not pass a ban with the nation split nearly 50-50; particularly if there is a conservative majority, many of whom receive benefits from lobbyists like the NRA,” said Jamie Cummings.

It would have been easy to dismiss the youth as “crisis actors” or “experts from the school community.” All three were well-dressed, air-brushed almost, and articulate speakers. The problem with that approach is these kids were bravely standing up to do the right thing and address the fear of their peers.

But lost in the conversation were the conservative talking points, the “hate speech” that addresses long-term consequences instead of merely assuaging the emotion of the current crisis that ought not go to waste:

The best defense is self-defense; government is an abdication of responsibility, with surcharges for inefficiencies; the chains of government are the price of failure to govern oneself-governance; laws only hurt law-abiding citizens; no amount of legislation will stop somebody willing to murder, etc.

Conservatives were set up as strawmen who loved the money they get from the NRA. To the speakers, it seemed the Second Amendment was not the rule of law; it didn’t exist. To reiterate, regardless of what activist judges say, the Bill of Rights was written to protect the rights of people, not government. It grants people the right to defend themselves against an unstable tyrant, like King George III, against whom the Revolutionary War was fought. Oddly, progressives seemed to forget their pundits’ characterizations of the current president in their request that government have more control over arms.

More pointedly, in the words of political activist Carl Milsted, “I would rather suffer some school shootings than have a rogue government go berserk over a disarmed populace. We have a couple hundred million dead from the 20th century to warn us of the dangers of uncontrolled governments. … But given the choice of banning all private firearms and banning public schools, I would do the latter.”

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