The National School Walkout is happening as this paper goes to print, so we’ll kick off our March Cheers & Jeers with a giant CHEERS to all the students who participated in the 17-minute walkout to remember the Parkland, Florida school shooting victims and to push for sane gun control measures.
CHEERS also go out to the Camas and Washougal educators, parents and school administrators who supported these students and their efforts to keep the national gun control conversation going. We know gun control measures help reduce mass shootings. In particular, our nation’s 10-year ban on assault weapons drastically reduced the number of mass shootings like the one that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. That assault weapons ban, signed into law by former president Bill Clinton in 1994, ended in 2004 despite efforts by Democrat legislators to renew the ban in 2004 and again in 2008, and further efforts by former president Barack Obama to make the ban permanent.
In that same vein, our first March JEERS goes to anyone who still thinks more guns are the answer. As we are writing this editorial, news is breaking that an armed teacher in a California school accidentally discharged their gun, injuring at least three students. Arming teachers is not the answer. Statistics show that even the most highly trained police officers only hit their targets about 20 percent of the time. When those officers are under fire, that accuracy decreases to roughly 10 percent. What in the world makes anyone think that a school teacher would be able — or even willing — to disarm and kill a person firing at them with an assault rifle? The only reason this ridiculous “solution” is even being proposed is because the National Rifle Association, which represents gun manufacturers and has the ear of the president, wants to sell more guns and distract the masses from a reasonable conversation about implementing the same gun control measures in place in every other developed nation in the world.
Our third CHEERS goes to the dozens of folks who turned out for the recent talk by Matthew Erlich, son of a Holocaust survivor, at the Camas Public Library. Erlich stopped by the Post-Record the following day and told us how surprised and touched he was by the overwhelming turnout Monday night. He also told us how important it is that younger generations learn about the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazis, so that this type of mass tragedy never happens again. As Erlich pointed out, the Holocaust did not start with the slaughter of 11 million people. There were many signs and warnings leading up to the Holocaust and Hitler was an elected leader, Erlich noted. Hate crimes, in particular crimes against Jewish people and people of color, are on the rise in the United States. As Erlich pointed out, anti-Semitic violence skyrocketed in 2017 compared to 2016. Erlich urges us all to take a stand against hatred and violence toward immigrants and minority groups. “Build bridges,” he says. “Do not give in to fear.” CHEERS to that.
With Erlich and his mother, Felicia, in mind, our final JEERS goes to any politician or person touting the type of divisiveness that leads to an increase in violence against other people. If you find yourself feeling or promoting animosity toward immigrants, refugees, people of color, homosexuals, transexuals, non-Christians or other groups of people, we urge you to reflect on where these beliefs come from. Can you learn to build bridges with the groups of people you fear? Can you see past the divisiveness coming from our current administration and from right-wing news outlets like Fox and Breitbart? If you are questioning your fears and want to learn more about building bridges and promoting peace, CHEERS to you. A great first step is to visit the online site for the Holocaust Center for Humanity at www.holocaustcenterseattle.org. Click on the “Education” link and visit the “Lessons, Activities, Handouts” section to find a wealth of information, including a 20-minute documentary, “With my Own Eyes: Holocaust. Genocide. Today.” that connects the Holocaust with what is happening in our world today.