Tom and I are retired teachers, the parents of a teacher, and the grandparents of young teens. We are citizens of this nation who have plenty of reason to care what happens in our schools, but not only in our schools. Gun violence is widespread in our country, essentially because guns are widespread, and we do a poor job of controlling who has those guns.
Today we joined the young people who organized the March For Our Lives movement across the nation, and even around the world, to call for common sense gun control.
It is easy to find the deflections to the issue of guns: it's a mental illness issue, we need to stop bullying and spread love, it's the result of bad parenting. How about: cars kill more people than guns so ban cars; why don't you march for all the aborted babies you kill; guns don't kill people, people do. I saw a great response to that last one - then why to we let people who would kill have guns?
Mental health is an issue, and we need more health care resources to address it, we can spread love while controlling guns, and we don't need guns laying around in homes with bad parenting. We license cars and take away drivers licenses for serious infractions. While abortion has no place in this discussion, it is a choice, just as owning a gun is a choice, and both require common sense regulations. Deflect all you want, this is a GUN issue!
And so we marched! We don't have a crowd size estimate yet for the Seattle march, but it was tens of thousands, and filled the 2 mile march route with a sea of signs. Young and old and in the middle, we all carried the message for common sense gun control, with the promise to vote our message in the upcoming elections.
My sign generated smiles, Tom's sighs. A woman came up to me and asked if she could borrow my sign and have her picture taken with her phone, because she was a new grandmother and was thrilled to be there and wanted to send the photo to family. At the end of the march a man passing by pointed to my sign and said to his friend, "That's the best sign I've seen all day". I got many smiles and thumbs up and photos snapped of me. It made me happy.
There were lots of grandmothers in the crowd today, and families with young children, people of all ages and sizes and colors. And, of course, there were the students, those wonderful young people who put this all together and made it happen.
We gathered at Cal Anderson Park as the sky was clearing after a cold, wet, and snowy early morning.
What are the chances that we would encounter someone we knew in a crowd of tens of thousands? And yet, as we gathered at the park, there she was, Carole, the school counselor I worked with for many years, and have not seen in over year! She and her husband are activists too. I loved it!
And then we were on our way, Marching for Our (Their) Lives.
There was a contingent of doctors from Swedish Hospital. They deal with the results of gun violence.
Yes, "Change is coming!"
I told this mom I loved her sign, and that I was growling. She said she was too.
Between the rally at the beginning of the march and the one at the end, students poured out their hearts and the governor and other officials spoke. We were just happy to have been part of the support group.
We took a bus back to Westlake Center, had some lunch at a Subway shop, and then coffee in the park, while a high school band visiting from Sacramento played for us.
We were tired when we got home, but happy, and more importantly, hopeful.
As the government seems to be falling apart around us daily, young people are becoming activated to bring change. Many took the opportunity to register to vote today. We need to continue to encourage and support them, and to stay diligent and informed and involved ourselves. We cannot let them down.