Tag Archives: Sandy Hook

Gen Z’er stands out!

Maxwell Frost has emerged — whether he believes it or not — as a standard bearer for a generation thought by many of us older folks to be, um, lost and without a purpose.

I’m not one of those nasty old people who believes it, by the way, but I do want to say a few good words about the trail that young Maxwell Frost may be about to blaze.

He well could become the first person from what is called Generation Z to be elected to Congress. He is running for the10th Congressional District in Florida; the seat he is seeking is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the Democratic Party nominee for the Senate, where she will run this fall against Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

But … back to Frost.

He said something quite stunning today, which is that his generation of young Americans has now gone through more “active shooter drills in schools than fire drills.”

If elected to Congress, Frost would be 25 years of age, which is the constitutionally set minimum age for House members.

I had to look it up, but I found out that Gen Z Americans are those born between 1997 and 2012, which puts Frost at the front end of that generation.

Frost achieved his political awareness after the Sandy Hook school massacre of December 2012. He became acquainted with a sibling of one of the children slain that day in Newtown, Conn. Frost, who was a teenager at the time, said he committed then to doing something to improve the lives of young people.

So, here he is. A decade later this serious fellow seeks to take his seat with the curmudgeons of Congress, seeking to put his stamp on laws that we all must obey.

Frost won the Democratic primary this week and will run for a seat that has leaned heavily Democrat for some time. “Today’s election is proof that Central Florida’s working families want representation that has the courage to ask for more,” Frost said in a statement. “I share this victory with the nurses, forklift drivers, teachers, caregivers, social workers, farmers, union organizers, cashiers, and other members of this vibrant community who supported this campaign,” he added.

Frost’s platform is straightforward. He is running on a platform of more gun laws, better health care and an improved focus on environmental justice. Are we clear on that? Good. I get it.

This is the kind of constructive payback we can see emerge from the depths of our national sorrow.

The Greek philosopher Plato once lamented how the young people of his era, 500 years before Jesus Christ’s birth, were shiftless and disrespectful of their elders. Maybe they were, but he was wrong to predict the demise of civilization as he knew it then.

Maxwell Frost is demonstrating to us that we all well might be in good hands indeed.


Don’t wait for ‘tipping point’

Bad news is tough to deliver, but I feel the need to deliver it to those who believe the Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket massacre is going to result in a “tipping point” that prompts legislation to prevent this kind of gun violence.

The nation grieves once again as it mourns the deaths of 10 innocent victims who were gunned down in a supermarket by someone who (allegedly) acted with intense racist intent. The suspect is a white teenager; virtually all of the victims are African-American. The suspect drove 200-plus miles to Buffalo to perform his dastardly act.

Tipping point? Will this event bring some Republicans in Congress to join their colleagues in seeking some sort of legislative remedy to this sort of senseless violence?

My “gold standard” for an event that would spur some action occurred in late 2012 in Newtown, Conn. A lunatic killed 20 first- and second-graders along with six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He then killed himself.

It was the darkest day of President Obama’s time in office. The president’s eyes welled up with tears as he told the nation of the slaughter that occurred. Did that event — given the context — result in any sort of legislative remedy? No. It didn’t.

Congress’s failure to act turned out to be the biggest disappointment in Barack Obama’s two terms as president.

I wish I could predict that this latest spasm of violence would prompt action from those who represent those of us who demand action. I cannot go there!

My profound fear is that we’re going to express our horror, offer our prayers to the family members of the victims and then wait for the next explosion of violence.



POTUS faces lose-lose encounter

Donald J. Trump is set to plunge into a place where he is likely to get bloodied — politically speaking. He intends to venture to El Paso, Texas, in the next day or so.

He will presumably speak to folks who were affected by the mass slaughter of 22 people at the Wal-Mart shopping center over the weekend.

The president is being told he isn’t welcome. Why? Because many Americans — including myself — blame Trump’s fiery, divisive rhetoric for spawning the shooter to massacre Latinos gathered at the store for some last-minute, back-to-school shopping.

Should he go? I believe he should. It’s a critical part of the job he agreed to do when he got elected president of the United States. Is this president good at lending comfort? Is he adept at saying just the right thing, in just the right tone, to just the right audience in its time of intense grief? No. He isn’t.

Will he step up and acknowledge the role his rhetoric has played in the tragedy that exploded in El Paso? I doubt it seriously.

I am left to wonder: Has there ever been a recent U.S. president who has felt the scorn of stricken communities the way this one is feeling it now in the wake of the El Paso tragedy?

Did Bill Clinton feel it when he went to Oklahoma City in 1995 after the bomber blew up the Murrah Federal Building? Did George W. Bush feel it when he ventured multiple times to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Did such recrimination fall on Barack Obama when he went to Charleston, S.C., after the madman opened fire in that church, or when he went to Newtown, Conn., after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed all those precious children and their teachers? No, no and no!

This visit, and the trip he plans to take to Dayton, Ohio — another city stricken by gun violence during the same weekend— likely won’t go well.

All I can say is: Suck it up, Mr. President.

Students have a message worth hearing … and heeding

Amarillo students are going to march … for their lives!

You go, young people. You have something important to add to a growing and significant national discussion.

On March 24, around noon, students are going to begin their “March For Our Lives” at Ellwood Park. They are far from alone. They are joining a national movement that seeks to draw attention to the scourge of gun violence. There will be marches in other communities around the nation on that day.

The catalyst occurred in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He killed 17 students and staff members before he was arrested.

The shooter might be executed for his crime; or at the least he will spend the rest of his miserable life in prison.

He has ignited a serious call for change.

I heard from a Caprock High School teacher who is helping a couple of young students — Carly Prieto and Wendy Garcia — organize the march.

According to Cindy Dominguez, the students and their families “will take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings. The collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. That’s exactly what this movement will be about!”

Dominguez notes that “These kids are our future.”

The shooter, indeed, seems to have awakened young people in a way we haven’t yet seen. The Sandy Hook slaughter of 20 first-graders and six teachers didn’t do it. Nor did the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. The Orlando, Fla., nightclub massacre produced more silence, as did the Las Vegas music festival slaughter that killed 59 people.

This one, the Parkland tragedy, seems different in its response.

Dominguez said the march organizers have “invited all the local high schools, middle schools, heck, even the elementary schools can join us.”

The march will start at Ellwood Park and conclude at the Potter County Courthouse. Dominguez indicated that County Judge Nancy Tanner “has yet to say ‘yes'” to the use of the courthouse grounds. I trust the judge will do the right thing and grant permission for these young people to have their voices heard.

This is a big deal. Students want to read the names of the Parkland victims. They intend to recite poems they have written to honor them. And, yes, there will be plenty of rhetoric aimed at the politicians who have the power to legislate remedies to this plague when and where it’s appropriate.

I don’t hold out a huge dose of hope that U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry or U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will respond immediately to what they hear in Amarillo or anywhere else in Texas.

But … this demonstration must take place. These voices must be heard. Their message must be heeded.

Is this massacre spawning a political movement?

Are my ears deceiving me or am I hearing the rumblings of an extraordinary political movement born of yet another national tragedy?

A gunman opened fire this past week in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people. It was yet another in a lengthy — and likely growing — list of public school massacres.

In previous such tragedies — such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, to cite just two — politicians called for action to curb gun violence. Then, to the never-ending shame of those in power, nothing got done. The gun lobby — led by the National Rifle Association — bullied Congress, threatening to beat politicians at the next election if they tinkered with any notion of legislating possible remedies to the epidemic of gun violence.

This time, in the wake of the Parkland massacre, we’re hearing something quite different. High school students, some of whom already are of voting age, are speaking with remarkable eloquence about their belief in the need for legislative remedies.

They speak of their own tragic loss, the deaths of their dearest friends, of the “heroes” who died while trying to save the lives of others. They are warning politicians — Democrats and Republicans — that if they don’t act now, that these young people will take political matters in their own hands.

They are speaking about their electoral power, how they, too, can threaten politicians who don’t stand up to the gun lobby. The picture attached to this post is of high schooler Emma Gonzalez, who called out Donald Trump on the issue of gun control.

It’s still quite early in the aftermath of this latest monstrous act. Still, I cannot get past the gnawing in my gut that we might be witnessing the birth of a political movement conceived by the next — and perhaps greatest — generation of Americans.

Teachers have become ‘first responders’

When we think of “first responders,” our thoughts turn normally to police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

The tragedy that erupted this week in Parkland, Fla., however, has offered a grim new reality. First responders quite often — too damn often! — are people who aren’t trained to fulfill that role. School teachers have taken on that role whenever madmen open fire in classrooms, or in hallways.

A beloved football coach gave his life on Valentine’s Day when he shielded students from the shooter who opened fire at the Parkland high school. He was one of three educators who died while performing acts of heroism.

And yet, they were among many teachers who answered the call when the shooting began.

This is not what educators sign on to do when they take these jobs. They are committed to teaching young people, educating them and preparing them for their journey into adulthood.

The Parkland tragedy, along with the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012, or the Columbine tragedy in 1999 remind us that danger lurks in places where — in a better world — we shouldn’t expect to find it.

I’ve often expressed my admiration for the first responders, the folks trained to do those tasks. I also have offered by salute to educators committed to shaping young people’s lives and the commitment they demonstrate each day in the classroom.

We must rue the era that has dawned on us that teachers, too, are able to perform acts of heroism. It is, I fear, a tragic sign of our time.

The nation is still crying over this tragedy

This tweet was fired off today from a former White House secretary, Jay Carney.

He writes that his boss, President Barack Obama, broke down in tears over the news that came from Newtown, Conn.

A deranged madman gunned down 20 first- and second-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The president, who is “normally stoic,” as Carney said, lost his cool. He cried.

So did Carney. Indeed, so did many Americans when they got word of what had happened. I was among them.

This tragedy occurred five years ago this week. It was supposed to be some sort of “tipping point” in the never-ending debate over gun violence and whether there were ways to legislate a remedy that could keep weapons out of the hands of lunatics, such as the monster who committed this dastardly deed.

The fight, as always, centered then on the Second Amendment, the one that guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms.” Gun-rights advocates argue that no law could have prevented the Newtown nut job from getting a gun, given that he got the weapon from his mother — who he also killed in his rampage.

The failure to act in the wake of that horrific event made the president cry yet again.

And … yes, there have been other such tragedies since that terrible December day: Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, to name just three of them.

When can we stop the tears?

Mounting a small form of protest over shooting violence

My head continues to spin. My gut continues to roil in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

I have no answers. I have no solutions. Plenty of questions abound. They are overwhelming. The nation faces yet another daunting task in debating and discussing how to end this spasm of gun violence.

My own recourse is limited. I run this blog. I use it to comment on issues of the day. I also am able to use it to mount a form of protest.

I continue using High Plains Blogger to offer a voice against gun violence.

Some time ago, probably two or three gun massacres ago, I decided to quit referencing shooters by name. I’m doing so with the Las Vegas madman. Yes, the shooter is dead; he killed himself as police were closing in on his Mandalay Bay hotel room.

My protest of omission won’t affect this monster. He is burning in hell somewhere, along with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, the Columbine High School shooters, the University of Texas Tower gunman, and any of the other seemingly countless list of mass murderers. When the Army major who killed all those folks in Killeen, Texas, or when the Charleston, S.C., church murderer get put down, they’ll join them all in hell.

My type of protest won’t solve any problems. It won’t bring any solutions. It only gives me a tiny scintilla of satisfaction that I won’t publish their names here, committing them to some form of blogosphere immortality.

Filibuster ends; now, let’s go on the record on guns

Chris Murphy has declared a form of victory in his effort to enact gun-control legislation.

The junior U.S. senator from Connecticut, though, likely won’t be able to win the proverbial “war” against his colleagues who oppose him.

He spoke for 15 hours on the floor of the Senate, ending his filibuster at 2 a.m. As he yielded the floor to Republicans, he said he received assurance that the Senate will vote on whether to approve expanded background checks and to ban gun sales to suspected terrorists.

I will concede that the background check idea is a bit problematical for the Democratic senator. Opponents of expanding those checks contend that those who buy guns already are subjected to them.

It’s the other one, the terrorist element, that puzzles me.


Congressional Republicans so far have opposed the ban on gun sales to individuals on federal no-fly lists. That’s right. Someone who isn’t allowed to board a commercial airliner because of suspected terrorist affiliation can purchase a gun. Wow, man.

Murphy was moved, obviously, by the slaughter in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend — and by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School four years ago in his home state of Connecticut.

I own two weapons. I understand what the Second Amendment says — I think. I hesitate only because, in my view, the Founders wrote it badly.

Sen. Murphy’s filibuster is supposed to lead now to a Senate vote on these two critical issues: background checks and no-fly list bans.

He isn’t likely to win the day on these votes, given that the Senate is controlled by Republicans who, in turn, appear to be controlled by the gun lobby.

President Barack Obama acknowledged the other day that these measures won’t stop all future acts of gun violence. They might prevent some of them. Isn’t there some value in that?

Let’s put all senators on the record. Do you favor these measures that, in my view, retain the Second Amendment right to gun ownership, or do you oppose them?