Our View Feb. 24 No better time for civil discussion When we were going to school, we worried about the next algebra test. Or the upcoming science fair project. Those concerns pale by comparison to the unease of so many of today’s schoolchildren. In the wake of our country’s latest mass school shooting – the slaughter of 17 people including students as young as 14 years old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – our next generation is increasingly worried about simply surviving inside the walls of what should be a sanctuary from the world’s ills. Those students are raising their voices, too – including right here in the Santa Clarita Valley, where Golden Valley High School junior Dean Douglas organized a series of demonstrations this week across the William S. Hart Union High School District. The anti-gun rally during Wednesday’s lunch hour at Golden Valley attracted dozens of students who held up signs with the names of victims from recent school shootings and chanted “Children over Guns” and “No More Silence, Stop Gun Violence.” In a heartbreaking but telling assessment, GVHS senior Jessica Peregrina, 17, told The Signal, “I’m terrified of being at school sometimes because all of the shootings have happened and I don’t know where I stand in the future.” Peregrina’s feelings have been shared by students in other places. When more than 200 students from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Springs, Md., walked out of school this week and protested at the U.S. Capitol, one girl carried a sign that read, “Am I next?” At Barron Collier High School in Florida this week, about 200 students gathered in a circle on the football field around noon and, one by one, shared their concerns, according to the USA TODAY Network. One student, Shawntayvia Hickson, a 14-year-old freshman, told the Naples Daily News, “It’s just really devastating that we have to be scared to go to our own school.” We hurt for these students. We hurt for the families that have lost their children. We hurt for our country. We are saddened, too, that it has taken this mass display of student activism to start a meaningful conversation about guns. This a long overdue conversation that should been initiated by the adults among us. None of us – left or right, black or white, old or young – should accept the death of another child inside an institution of learning. The answer as to how we can protect our future generation isn’t clear. It’s an answer that, we contend, will only be found through the civil exchange of thoughts and ideas and with the greater good of our country as the driving force. Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, like many other elected officials across our country, is seeking input from his constituents to help develop “responsible legislation” that balances safety and security with our constitutional right to own and bear arms as designated in the Second Amendment. This week, Knight launched a survey on his website (https://knight.house.gov/forms/form/?ID=17) that asks respondents to answer six multiple-choice questions regarding gun laws and background checks. “Gun violence is a major problem in America and must be addressed,” Knight wrote in the introduction to the survey. “All too often, we see news stories of homicides, suicides, and mass shootings that rock our communities to their core.” We each have an opportunity – we might even say, a responsibility – to speak out in this moment. If you have ideas, share them – with elected leaders, with friends and neighbors, with any individual or organized body that can further this most critical conversation. This is not a time to remain quiet. As we raise our voices to be heard, let us also remember to listen. We are a nation of strong, resilient and innovative people that is at its best when we work together.
We’ve already endured, and lost, too much. Let us go to work now, across the nation, to ensure that Parkland is the last.