For high schools this time of year, most students are getting ready for prom, baseball, graduation and vacation. Like most high schools, students struggled with subjects that they were probably not going to use the rest of their lives. The lives of the students at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, near Ft. Lauderdale, were about to undergo a change and it was a change that was as welcome as mosquitoes on a summer day in the Sunshine State.

Their peace and quiet as they knew would be changed forever and not for good. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, who once walked among them, shot his way through the school, sending students and teachers into hiding for their safety in the hopes that they would not be the next target. At the end of the horror and chaos, 17 people died, 14 of them students, three of them teachers and several more would be injured. Cruz would eventually be arrested and charged with the 17 deaths as well as the assault on the school. As of this writing, he sits behind bars without any chance of bail.

As for those that were injured, some will eventually recover, while others have injuries that will cripple them for the rest of their lives. Cruz took their peace and quiet and disrupted their lives, destroying that peace and quiet forever. Cruz, who was expelled from the same school that he attacked, is the poster child for the NRA. Cruz, through his appointed public defender, offered to plead guilty and take life without parole for his actions as long as the death penalty was taken off the table. So far, the District Attorney of Broward County and the Attorney General of the state of Florida have not made any decision or comment on that.

In the days following the massacre, students around the country planned a national walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 13 people dead.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told NBC he was proud of the students and their response to the horrific incident. “They are intelligent, they’re articulate, they’re passionate, and they’re committed to securing a safe future for themselves. This is their moment, this is their generation and they’re stepping up and doing what needs to happen,” he said. “I feel so encouraged that this time it will be different.”

Before the Stoneman Douglas students march on Washington, they headed to Tallahassee and spoke to state leaders and it was  Jaclyn Corin, a student who organized the visit. Corbin told the Miami Herald and NBC News, “We are the ones that looked into Nikolas Cruz’s eyes. We took 17 bullets to the heart. We are the only ones who can speak up. We have to be the adults in this situation because clearly people have us failed us in the government, and we must make the change now because we’re the only ones who are going to.”

The students that went to Tallahassee to speak to their leaders saw that failure come to light as house Republicans on Tuesday decisively blocked a move by Democrats to debate a ban on assault weapons in Florida, six days after a massacre that took 17 lives at a Broward County high school.

The bill (HB 219), which would ban the sale and possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines like the kind used by Cruz, has been mired in a House subcommittee for months and has not been heard. Amid rising tensions at the state Capitol, Democrats used a highly unusual procedure to move the proposal directly to the House floor for a debate and vote.

Republicans voted it down, 71 to 36. Several survivors of the massacre in Parkland, watching from the visitors’ gallery, were overcome with emotion and the action set off a firestorm of controversy on social media. They were also overcome with anger and righteous indignation.

These kids saw 17 of their friends die and the Florida Legislature, who were supposed to be their ally, chose party over their constituents. They failed the people of the state of Florida by not allowing discussion on HB 219, which would have effectively banned that type of weaponry in the state of Florida. This was their chance to beat swords into plowshares and do it in front of a group of students that recently lost 14 of their classmates and 3 of their teachers.

Instead of listening to their better angels, they chose to listen to the gun zealots and the NRA. They became cowards, plain and simple and there is hope that when these kids get out of college, they become legislators and vote you all out. While some of them were not old enough to drive, let alone vote, they chose an action that is respectful and peaceful. They let the world know that enough is enough. Their actions drew attention to a problem that needed to be addressed and addressed quickly before more people die needlessly.

That day, the Florida Legislature told the future voters of the Sunshine State that they didn’t give a damn about them. This is cowardice. The bigger question is this. When is going to end, when their child is shot or killed? 14 of their peers are dead. They will NEVER graduate from high school, have a Spring break, go to prom or Homecoming. 3 teachers dead, they will never stand in front of a group of students. They are gone forever and short of the Resurrection, they will never come back. Their blood is on the hands of the leaders they hoped would listen to them and protect them.

This in no way is an attempt to punish the people that own guns, the one that go through the PROPER channels to get a weapon and learn how to use it properly. Instead, it’s a call to our elected leaders to listen to their better angels and pass legislation that makes sense and if that means a re-write of the 2nd Amendment, so be it.

Recently, teachers were allowed to return to the school to get their cars and students were allowed to retrieve their personal belongings. They went back to school on Wednesday and when Wednesday came, there will be 17 fewer people at school. There will be fear and nerves that will be frayed. Those 17 that lost their lives will never walk those halls again. Their voices will be missed.

The elected adults failed the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and in the midst of the chaos, tears and blood being shed and anger, it was the students that chose the better course of action, a course of action that Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King would have approved. They took their anger and beat that anger into plowshares. They will further that action by registering to vote or voting in the upcoming midterm elections.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School chose to do what was right and challenge their leaders to do was right, not what was popular.

It’s time for the adults to follow suit.

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