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Mistakes were made in Parkland, but there is still little accountability.

Emails & Opinions

Joe Henderson: After Parkland shooting young people say ENOUGH!

To those young people who lived through the slaughter that was the Parkland shooting and vowed this will be the last time any school endures this: stick with it.

I hope you march on Washington next month, like many of you promise. I hope you inspire others to march in cities around the state and country.

I hope the raw passion of your words will be enough to shame the shameless sellouts who masquerade as lawmakers but are really just paid billboards for the National Rifle Association. That will be much harder than you think. These people are good at giving you a comforting hug with one hand while taking NRA cash with the other.

Those people don’t believe you will follow through.

They think after the echo of the bullets that flew through the halls and classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School subsides, most of you will return to a life of disengagement.

They think most of you will eventually get discouraged when lawmakers ignore and patronize you. Despite all their “thoughts and prayers” in this time of unfathomable tragedy, they don’t take you seriously enough to do something about the problem of too many guns.

That’s because they don’t believe that all these guns are a problem.

Prove them wrong.

They didn’t know your friends and teachers who were murdered. They probably weren’t paying attention to the rallies you attended in the aftermath of the killing. They were trying to figure out how to turn this tragedy to their advantage, or at least contain the political fallout.

President Donald Trump used the occasion to turn the focus on himself by blaming the FBI for investigating Russian trickery in the last election while fumbling clear signs that Nicklas Cruz was getting closer every day to inflicting horror on you and the nation.

While you were holding candlelight vigils and preparing to attend funerals, he was tweeting about Oprah Winfrey.

Think about that.

Many of you aren’t old enough yet to vote, but those who can should register and absolutely make your voice heard at the ballot box. And everyone should learn how the process works.

Learn the names and views of your state lawmakers — the ones who go to Tallahassee and keep voting to expand what is ironically called “gun rights.” They are the ones who want more guns in our state, not fewer. They don’t seem to care about the rights of those being shot in situations like what you just endured.

Learn who represents you in Congress. There is a wealth of information available online about how these people vote and who gives them money. Learn it, share it, and make your friends understand they have to care about this.

Rallies and vigils are fine, but the best way to fix the culture is to change the names and faces of those who make the laws.

You have vowed to make sure things will be different in the future, and I hope you do. The adults have certainly made a big enough mess of things. The anguish so many of you shared in the last week is evidence that you want change.

You deserve at least that much.

The adults who want to hold on to power are playing politics with a tragedy — your tragedy. Show them they’re wrong. Flood them with letters, protests, and the like.

Look up what happened in the 1960s, with the Vietnam War. A steady barrage of student-led protests against a useless slaughter of young Americans in a pointless conflict finally made a difference. Keep at it.

You can make a difference too.

After Parkland, America needs you to do just that.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

Andrew Gillum Andrew Gillum

Yep, the FBI did f*ck Andrew Gillum

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Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Michael Moline, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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