Across America yesterday, students and their allies marched for legislation that would provide genuine gun safety — they marched for their lives and for ours. For many years the National Rifle Association has been able to motivate voters willing to vote on the single issue of protecting the unfettered sale of firearms, and though theirs is a minority position, there wasn’t enough political will behind the efforts to create common sense legislation to promote gun safety. This is changing.
Many Wesleyan alumni, faculty and staff have been supporting these efforts. Just this year, our Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns sponsored a symposium on the history of firearms in the United States. On average, 68 percent of murders and 51 percent of suicides in the United States today involve guns, with scores of school shootings occurring each of the last several years. The Shasha seminar asked a series of important questions: What is the current state of laws regarding gun possession and use in the United States, including on college campuses? What do we know, or think we know, about the gun debate in the country? Are there any areas of agreement among those on all sides of the debate who are concerned about the scourge of gun violence? What are the lessons from history? Are there paths forward to reduce the incidence of gun-related violence and death in the United States?
There are paths forward, and young people are forging them right now. There are many future Wesleyan students out there who are learning about civic engagement by taking to the streets to make their voices heard. We need their energy and their political passion. As Yolanda Renee King, the nine-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King, called out from the podium during yesterday’s march in Washington:
Spread the word
All across the nation
Going to be
A great generation.
Enough is enough.