Activist Wants To Keep Kids Out Of School Until Congress Passes Gun Control

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of being able to spend some time with Andrew Pollack and Ryan Petty, two of the parents who are part of one of the worst clubs in the country: moms and dads who’ve had their children stolen from them by cowardly criminals and evil individuals intent on taking as many innocent lives as possible. While both of these gentleman have suffered the same loss and dealt with the same grief as other parents, because they don’t embrace the idea that more gun control laws are an effective and constitutional way to deal with the issue of targeted violence, however, they don’t receive nearly as much attention from media outlets as other parents who’ve channeled their grief into anti-gun advocacy.

One of those parents is Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was murdered by the same twisted soul at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who killed Meadow Pollack, Alaina Petty, and fourteen other students and staff. Oliver has a brand new op-ed at CNN advocating for a “solution” to get Congress to pass new gun control laws that has about as much chance of success as a gun ban does at preventing acts of violence.

For families like mine that have been impacted by school shootings, the lull in school shootings because of the lockdown is a moment that shouldn’t be ignored.
So, while I recognize the struggles many have faced in the past year, I have a suggestion: that all kids keep learning from home until we see some real action on guns from our legislators.
Some may read this, roll their eyes and dismiss this as a preposterous idea that ignores the realities for families.
To that, I would say look at what has happened since the country began opening up. Over one weekend last month, there were 11 mass shootings across the US. And I would also ask, do you think schools will suddenly be spared from this act of domestic terrorism?
No, I don’t think that schools are magically resistant to the rise in violent crime that we’ve seen across the United States over the past year. I just don’t believe that the new gun control laws that Oliver is advocating for would make any difference to those intent on taking innocent human lives.
Several of those shootings that Oliver mentioned took place in states with incredibly restrictive gun control laws, including California and New Jersey. In the San Jose shooting, the killer apparently went through the onerous and burdensome process of legally acquiring his guns, while in New Jersey the three men that have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a house party that left three people dead have all been charged with illegally possessing guns. Both states have laws that are far more restrictive than the policies that Oliver wants Congress to adopt, but in neither case were the gun control laws effective at preventing these crimes from taking place.
As responsible parents and protectors of our loved ones, we should demand the federal approval of universal background checks for every firearm purchase. We should also expect the adoption of “red flag” laws, which are state laws that allow courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from anyone believed to be a danger to themselves or others; and safe storage laws, that require that gun owners store their firearms unloaded and appropriately locked away, be passed at the federal level.
No change in society will happen on its own, and some radical circumstances — like the constant drumbeat of America’s mass shootings — require adding disruptive pressure to our representatives. My wife and I founded Change the Ref with the idea that Joaquin’s life could make a difference if it spurred the use of disruptive and untraditional ways to fight injustice. So, keeping the kids home as part of a national strike sounds like an effective way to accomplish our mission.
I know Manuel Oliver won’t believe me when I say this, but my heart does go out to him and his wife. As a father of five myself, I know how devastated I would be if one of my children were robbed of their ability to graduate high school, start a family, and live a rich and rewarding life. I don’t even begrudge him his anti-gun activism, though I don’t agree with his conclusions or his ideology. If Oliver wants to advocate for parents keeping their kids home until Congress passes his gun control agenda, that’s his right.
It’s also, however, a sign of just how unrealistic the gun control mentality truly is. There’s not going to be a national student strike for gun control, and it won’t be because of the “gun lobby” or Second Amendment activists. After a year of virtual learning, most parents are eager for their kids to return to the classroom, even if they’re worried about everything from student safety to the lessons that are being taught in U.S. History or Civics.
It’s just as unrealistic to think that a criminal is going to care about a universal background check law, or red flag laws, or gun storage mandates. We have all the evidence we need to know that these laws aren’t effective in preventing the types of attacks like the one in Parkland, Florida in 2018. What’s more, we also know what is effective at stopping these kinds of attacks before they begin: students and staff speaking out when they hear about a threat. Communication, not gun confiscation, is the real key here. Rather than encouraging parents to keep their kids home, I wish Oliver was encouraging students to speak up instead. It’s a simple, but much more realistic proposal to keep our kids safe, and it doesn’t involve trying to create millions of new criminals out of law-abiding gun owners.