By Tia Will
March 14 was a regular school day for elementary schools and high schools in Davis, the Bay Area and across the nation. It was also the day of a student organized 17-minute walk-out in commemoration of the 17 killed in Parkland, Florida, in one of the most recent mass shootings.
My daughter teaches science at a charter high school in the Bay Area. Her class joined with the adjacent elementary students in the 17-minute march.
In Davis, participating schools included Davis High School, DaVinci Charter Academy High School, Montgomery Elementary School, and Fred T. Korematsu Elementary School.
At UCD, it was finals week. Even at this time of increased academic pressure, at 10 o’clock, by my estimate approximately 75 students, lecturers, and community members gathered on the quad. A student organizer read the names of the 17 who were murdered in Parkland. A moment of silence was observed, following which a number of individuals chose spontaneously to address the group.
The issues raised by these individuals, speaking from their hearts with no prior expectation of participation, are what I would like to cover.
- The burden of fear. Two speakers referred to their younger siblings and the challenge for them of worrying on a daily basis that they, or their siblings may go to school one day and never return home. They questioned why we do not have the right to live without this fear.
- One woman brought up the limiting nature of anxiety. She mentioned that it had occurred to her that today’s observance, with us standing on the open quad in a circle, would have presented a perfect opportunity for someone armed with an assault rifle to open fire. She debated coming, then pushed through the anxiety, and came anyway. I had had the same thought, and from the looks of those around me, so had everyone there.
- A campus lecturer addressed the futility of the dichotomous nature of the debate over gun safety. She pointed out what should be the non-partisan nature of this issue. Those killed cannot neatly be divided into liberals or conservatives, nor can the assailants. All are at risk. The problem is not exclusively the gun or the shooter. It is the acquisition of the gun by a person with ill intent. Neither the individual nor the chosen agent of destruction should be ignored. The solutions are not mutually exclusive but should be fully inclusive and broad reaching.
- One speaker stressed that this is a local problem, not a red state problem. It is a real, not a theoretical problem. There is no location in this country that is safe from the possibility of a mass shooting. We cannot afford the luxury of thinking that this is “someone else’s problem” or that it “can’t happen here.”
Finally, a member of the Yolo County Chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence informed the group of the planned March for Our Lives event at the Sacramento Capital on Saturday 3/24. It was pointed out that the Yolo County Chapter is organizing car pools and a more general invitation was made to those interested in partnering with the Yolo County Brady Campaign, which maintains a Facebook page.
I would also like to extend the same invitation to any Vanguard readers who have an interest in this issue, which is indeed local as well as national.