RICKTER SCALE: Can the ‘Never Again’ movement turn the tide?

Rick Stiebel | Columnist

Despite the multitude of similarities kids in Sooke share with their neighbours to the south, one glaring difference was underlined on Valentine’s Day.

Students at Edward Milne and Journey schools don’t worry about exiting their classroom in a body bag when they head off to school in the morning. Although fire and earthquake drills are part of the curriculum, preparing for shootings like the horror in Florida is not on the agenda.

It was truly inspiring to hear the eloquent, emotional appeals from students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the lawn of the Florida legislature last week.

Sadly, the question of whether they will be reckoned with was answered the day before.

Lawmakers voted 71 to 36 against even considering whether to begin a discussion on the ban of assault rifles. Florida Senator Marco Rubio has collected more than $3.3 million in contributions from the National Rifle Association to fund his election campaigns. He is one of many politicians who will never apply the brakes to that particular gravy train.

Each time the blood of more students and teachers is spilled, NRA-backed politicians only murmur thoughts and prayers from behind the safety of their Second Amendment shield.

The NRA will keep preaching its mantra that more guns are the solution and continue to plug the ears of elected officials with enough cash to ensure they learn nothing from the screams of the 20 six and seven year olds at Sandy Hook elementary killed in 2012.

Nothing that’s happened so far has stopped the NRA from simply shrugging off the horror until the next massacre that’s become the new normal unfolds in a burst of rapid fire.

The Second Amendment that galvanized the right to bear arms into the American psyche was put in place to protect Americans from another invasion by the British.

Hundreds of years later, America is now a country with more guns than people. I think it’s safe to say they’ve got it covered.

A friend of mine who recently returned from a business trip to Arizona told me his cab driver casually mentioned that he owns 13 guns. That provides a glimpse into the gun culture epidemic that extends across the country.

I would love to believe that the senseless slaughter in Florida will be enough to end the madness. There’s been 18 shootings in schools since the beginning of the year, however, and we’re not even through February, so you have to wonder what it will take to restrict the purchase of guns and eliminate the sale of weapons of war specifically designed to inflict maximum destruction.

While I wish the voices of the kids in Florida cause the laws to change for the better, I have my doubts. We’re talking about the United States, after all, where the Colt 45 of Wild West lore is still lovingly revered as a peacemaker.

•••

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired journalist, who lives in Sooke.

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