Copyright © 2017, by Karl Meyer All Rights Reserved

NOTE: This essay is being posted today in honor of the fallen students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, and those who will be walking out of their high schools on March 14th in their memory. It was originally published last December–two months before this latest, tragic event, on the pages of The Vermont Digger(, and The Greenfield Recorder (

Congress shall allow no law turning childhood into a nightmare


The time has come for our country to end the gun slaughter and return childhood to America’s children. It’s nearly 20 years since the Columbine High School bloodbath and we are now marking the 5-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. National legislation banning automatic weapon sales and requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases is the rational first step needed to begin restoring childhood’s stolen legacy. With just the recent carnage in Charlestown, Orlando, and Las Vegas, an endless drumbeat of gun slaughter is becoming this country’s accepted monthly dirge. Enough.

Today every member of Congress remains complicit in having done nothing to halt the national train wreck of rampant gun violence, and they are carrying the rest of us along with them. We’ve allowed the bullies to corner all of us within the once-democratic walls of a sacred American institution, our public schools—the sanctuaries where young people are expected to learn about justice, fairness, and the threat of bullying to a free society. Meanwhile, sales of these killing machines continue in their inherent threat of daily violence, while injecting a poisoned thinking into all our communities. Enough.

The multi-million dollar gun lobby has helped suck sense of a tranquil civil society from every city, suburban, and rural community school in the country. Manufacturers and security firms get rich, while school systems suffocate under the weight of million-dollar “safety” upgrades. Yet virtually no combination of any of these mechanisms is a guarantee they will be able to foil–before the fact, the invading menace of a single man armed with an automatic weapon and a full clip of ammunition.

Every teacher, parent and kid suffers under the impact of today’s no reasoning allowed gun arguments. Schools don’t feel like–or look like, humane institutions today. They’re outfitted like prisons: pass the police officer, the security camera—wait for the lock-down buzzer, just to learn alongside your peers. Teachers, as well as kids, pay a hefty daily psychological price just showing up. Meanwhile, fat cat lobbyists, manufacturers and shady dealers continue ripping what should be the core years of untroubled learning from the heart of society. Each member of Congress taking their blood money and voting down consideration and adoption of common sense gun legislation today is guilty of abetting this crime.

This is not about taking away hunting rifles or denying responsible owners a handgun for family or personal reasons. This is about stopping the madness. This is about ending an American nightmare. There is no rational argument against requiring a simple background check–a brief pause for anyone seeking the purchase of a lethal weapon on the spot. And surely there is no rational argument for allowing the commercial sale of personal weapons of mass destruction—the machines now eating away the core of community values nationwide.

Enough bloodshed, enough with hiding under the desks, lock-downs and security drills—enough with counter-assault numbers stenciled to each classroom window. It’s time for America to grow up, take responsibility, and give our kids the chance to be children again. Or, we can continue as cowards and condemn young people—and the rest of us, to lives of fear and complicity. Let every member of Congress know you don’t buy the trick arguments—tell them you will work to vote out any member that soils their hands with gun lobby cash. Assault weapons are designed for a single purpose: the efficient hunting and killing of multiple human beings. By any measure their sale is repugnant to the core values of a civil society.


Writer and journalist Karl Meyer lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists