Letter: On gun laws, U.S. should take students' lead

To the Editor:

In response to last week's item about heightened school security ("After Parkland, Parents Push for School Security Upgrades," Mar. 1): Certainly parents are right to demand better safeguards for their children. But armed guards, metal detectors and war-zone protocols alone won't stop the terrifying acceleration of mass shootings and escalating death tolls. Not while the AR-15 and its ilk remain shockingly easy for disturbed individuals to obtain.

The AR-15 is the gun Nikolas Cruz, 19, used to kill 17 people last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He obtained it legally, at a Florida gun store. These semiautomatic rifles are modeled after the military's M16, a lightweight, easy-to-handle weapon designed for precision accuracy and high lethality at long range. It is singularly effective in that purpose, and easily modified to make it even deadlier.

That massacre in Parkland — recently deemed Florida's safest community — clearly shows that an alienated, violent youth might turn up at any school or public place in the nation, determined to kill. Cruz didn't have to be a genius to figure out that the school's CodeRED emergency response system (which automatically locked classroom doors) could be overridden by tripping the fire alarm. Obtaining the rifle he used to slaughter students and staff who poured into the hallways as the fire alarm rang was even simpler: He just walked into a store and bought it.

A majority of Americans now favor reinstating an assault weapons ban. But Republican lawmakers, in service to the gun lobby that helped elect them, have refused to pass laws that would curb sales of these guns or the use of their lethal modifications. They won't support raising the age requirement for buying an AR-15, or stiffening rules for background checks. In short, we can all drop — or be shot — dead as long as the arms industry prospers.

No responsible adult could fail to be moved by Parkland's traumatized but highly focused teenagers as they rushed to action—researching gun laws and passionately demanding gun control. It's long past time we stood up against the NRA and its chokehold on Congress. In Parkland and other cities and town across the country it is the students protesting for sane gun laws who are now the adults in the room.

Robin Vaughan Kolderie,

Hoosick, N.Y.


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