Compassion before politics
In the wake of adversity, in the wake of tragedy, in the wake of the very worst that fate or man can throw our way, Americans have always paused and come together, if only briefly, to mourn those lost, to show respect for those sorely affected.
The reaction of far too many in the aftermath of the carnage that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland has been appalling in its callousness.
The floating, “liking” and “sharing” of meritless conspiracy theories victimizing survivors – child survivors – for political coinage jingled from the top down.
Attacks condemning the assumed and assigned motives of survivors – child survivors – who dare to cry “enough, please, enough.”
The regurgitation of the should’a, would’a, could’a blame game from those circling the wagons on both sides of the political divide before these children – God love us, these children – were buried.
Where is our compassion? Where is our collective soul?
It is not with those in Parkland in their hour of need.
Today, let us remember the fallen.
Today, let us share the pain of their families and friends.
Today, let us stand with the survivors and respectfully hear their messages whether they align with our views, with our proposed solutions of choice, or not.
Among our local representatives, state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, perhaps, said it best: “Floridians have a reasonable expectation that their children are safe when they send them to school. We must, and will, do better.”
Better safety, greater protection, is, in fact, what those criticized child survivors, and the young protestors nationwide who support their cry for action, want.
We need to hear – and heed – their plea.
This legislative session.
The how-can-we-fix-this debate has appropriately begun.
Gov. Rick Scott is proposing a number of things:
– A “Violent Threat Restraining Order” which would allow a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon when either a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer files a sworn request, and presents evidence to the court of a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons.
– Strengthen gun purchase and possession restrictions for mentally ill individuals under the Baker Act. If a court involuntarily commits someone because they are a risk to themselves or others, they would be required to surrender all firearms and not regain their right to purchase or possess a firearm until a court hearing with a waiting period of no less than 60 days before individuals could ask a court to restore access to firearms.
– Require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older with a military exception.
– Enhanced criminal penalties for threats to schools, such as social media threats of shootings or bombings.
– Enhanced penalties if any person possesses or purchases a gun after they have been deemed by state law to not have access to a gun.
– Complete ban the purchase or sale of bump stocks.
– $450 million for school safety including a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school, one per 1,000 students beginning next school year; mandatory active shooter training to be completed during the first week of each semester in all public schools and increased funding for specific school needs including “hardening measures” like metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks with “hardening” getting priority over other capital projects.
– Establishment of a new, anonymous K-12 “See Something, Say Something” statewide, dedicated hotline, website and mobile app.
– Funding to require access to dedicated mental health counselors to provide direct counseling services to students at every school.
– Requirement for a threat assessment team to meet monthly to review any potential threats to students and staff at the school.
– Crisis intervention training for all school personnel. Compassion – and action.
– $50 million in additional funding for mental health initiatives.
Compassion. And action.
Both are heartbreakingly overdue.
– Island Reporter editorial