This post originally presented at the #NEVERAGAIN Rally – March 14, 2018 – Hendersonville, TN.
My name is Kristi Cornett and I am a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Tonight we are gathered here to stand in solidarity with our young people, these brave souls who have been having lock down drills since the day they started kindergarten. I remember my own kindergartner coming home one day and when I asked her like every other day how her day was; instead of the excitement that once filled her for learning instead she changed. Her face turned to one of worry and she said, “Oh momma we had to hide in the bathroom to hide from bad guys,” and my stomach dropped. And of course this caused her six year old self to have anxiety and lots of questions. Questions that none of us want to have to answer for five and six year old little boys and girls.
But these bold young adults right now are saying enough, they are saying while adults may have accepted the fact that we have to practice what to do when someone comes into our schools with gun, who time after time after time and school after school have had to stand up to a gun because our politicians would rather cash their checks so that gun manufacturers can sell more and more guns.
A couple of weeks ago after Parkland had happened I sat in a committee meeting at our state capitol to hear about how our lawmakers are going to fix this problem, how they are going to make sure that our young children aresafe as we drop them off at schools. Their answer? More guns in the classrooms.
Not more SRO officers, who by the way have 480 hours of training, but to allow teachers to go through 40 hours of training and add one more thing to their already overworked and underpaid selves. Not finding funding for more counselors or simple defensive mechanisms, but instead our politicians want to arm them. So that instead of looking our children in the eyes and promising them that they are safe, instead we are looking to actually put guns in their learning environment.
Think about that for just for a moment. The very things that are causing our youth to lose their lives are the very things our politicians are trying to surround them with. Well like our youth say, it’s time that we call BS. It’s time that we say enough. It’s time to listen to them and say Never Again.
Never again will you have to hide in a closet instead of learning. Never again will you have to carry the anxiety of wondering if you’re going to come home for dinner each night. Never again will you be told to jump out of a second story window to be safe. Never again will you have to take the burden because we adults won’t.
The time is now and it is time to tell our politicians that their time is up and it’s time to say if you won’t protect our children we will throw you out. If they won’t protect our children, and instead say we will listen to the NRA then their job has come to an end. And this isn’t just a school issue.
Our youth are being killed outside of schools as well. Gun violence is impacting them in horrible, negative ways.
I want to take a moment and talk about a privilege it is for our students. Many students walked out today and they were brave and organized. And I am thankful for that opportunity that they had and I’m thankful that the administration was supportive. But I also want to point out a different type of bravery. One that students of color have had. As an organization we have been called and mothers have begged us not to take on the school walk out. Because our members who are African American, they know that their children can’t walk out with the same support. They can’t walk out and be protected, and we know this because after Michael Brown was killed nearly 1000 students did walk out and their voice wasn’t heard. Gun violence disproportionately impacts African Americans at a higher rate and we have to be there to fight for them as well. They stood and organized and marched and we did not hear their voices.
The truth is that 96 Americans die each and every day by the hand of a gun and 7 of them are children. Here in Tennessee we are number 1 with storage failure death when it comes to children. We are number 4 nationally with unintentional shootings. So I support this walkout, but it doesn’t end at a walkout. One day doesn’t change anything but a movement can. I want to encourage each of you to join this movement and take on gun violence both in schools and out. Tennessee has double the national average of guns brought to school. High schoolers and Middle schoolers are threatened at a higher rate in this state with a gun at school than any other state.
We have a gun problem. Enough is enough. It’s time for action. No more leaders who don’t act to pass common sense gun laws and let me tell you the ridiculous nature of gun laws our Tennessee legislature is trying to pass. Bills that allow guns in airports but don’t allow business shops in airports to be allowed to post no gun signs, guns allowed in businesses that post no gun signs. Currently we have a mutual responsibility that permit holders see the no guns signs and should respect that. But so many people don’t that our lawmakers are working to make it legal to walk into an establishment that has a no firearms sign posted. The owner or employee would have to confront this person putting again, undue burden on perhaps young employees to have to face a stressful situation. Tennessee is also trying to get rid of the permit system altogether, and of course Guns in our classrooms. And they tout that teachers will have a permit but at the same time they are trying to dismantle our permit system which in effect also takes away a layer of protection in our background checks system.
If we want to Throw them out we have to vote. I would ask you to take the pledge to be a gun sense voter. We can do better for our children. We can do better for every child that suffers because of gun violence. So the question is: When will we start loving our kids more than we love our guns?
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