February 19, 2018 at 4:24 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Thoughts and prayers don’t save lives
school shooting, gay news, Washington Blade

Cameron Kasky (Screen capture courtesy CNN)

I write this column with tears running down my face. The grief for all the children and their teachers who died in the latest school shooting is palpable. All these beautiful lives snuffed out before their time. Would one of these children have been the person to discover a cure for cancer? Or become the next prima ballerina or a Noble Prize winner? Would they have grown up to become the father, mother, sister or brother able to give something to the ones they loved or the ones who loved them? The heroic and talented teachers lost not only to their families but to future generations of students. All because of one mentally ill child we didn’t help; and a generation of politicians who have been unwilling to do anything but offer hollow thoughts and prayers and a few forced tears.

Well the tears and prayers of these politicians, and their words of condolence are just not enough and we need to tell them that in no uncertain terms. We are hearing the children who survived this latest atrocity in Parkland, Fla., saying, “We demand action now. President Trump your empty words and even emptier promises are simply not enough.”

I am a Democrat but at this time politics be damned. I call on the nation, every Democrat, Republican, and independent to commit to not casting a ballot for anyone, no matter their party, who is not willing to pledge to vote for common sense gun law reform. To not cast a ballot for any candidate who doesn’t commit to increased funding for mental health programs. We can no longer accept the hypocrisy from those like our president who calls for increased funding for mental health programs two days after submitting a budget to Congress calling for big cuts to Medicaid, which currently funds 25 percent of all our mental health programs.

We must finally hold politicians accountable and say to them in no uncertain terms, “The blood of those who will continue to die in these senseless shootings is on your hands because you have the power to do something about this and you are doing nothing.”

There is absolutely no reason for any civilian to be able to purchase an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. These are weapons of war and have no place in the hands of civilians on our streets. We must stand united and say to any politician who asks for our vote, “If you support the right of civilians to buy these weapons you are responsible for the war on our children. You can pretend you are defending the Second Amendment but you are not. You are waging a war on our children and our society.”   

On Nov. 6, 2018, Americans will go to the polls to elect their representatives on all levels of government. If we want to end this scourge of violence and this war on our children every American must be willing to stand up and say, “I will not vote for any candidate who refuses to support increasing the budget for mental health care and gun law reform.”

Politicians have the power to act but we, the voters, are the ones to give them that power or take it away. We have that only if we use our VOTE. If we abrogate that responsibility we are just as responsible as they are. It’s past time both to listen to, and speak out for, our children. The children who have survived the horrors of a shooting incident in their school and those who speak to us from their graves. They are begging us to act. Students like Cameron Kasky who survived the Parkland shooting with his brother who is a special needs student. Cameron wrote moving words: “My generation won’t stand for this.” We must all say to Cameron that our generation will no longer stand for this either. We must speak with these students and for them and do something more than just offer our thoughts and prayers. We must heed their demand and take action now.

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