Illustration: DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Darwin firmly established that no species can survive if it does not ensure that its offspring reach reproductive adulthood.

Where are the priorities of the richest nation on Earth when it comes to protecting its children?

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King brought major firearms legislation within 5 years. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 that restricted mail order sales of firearms.

The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and shooting death of rock star John Lennon resulted in the 1993 Brady Act. The Brady Act established who could buy a weapon through an FBI background program, and a mandatory waiting period when buying a handgun.

Between 1999 and 2018, there have never been fewer than 5 school shootings in a year. Of these shootings, 64.5 percent were targeted, 22.3 percent indiscriminate and 13.2 percent undesignated.  Since Sandy Hook in 2012, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed, there have been an additional 239 school shootings nationwide, with 438 shot and 138 killed.

More recently, 59 adults and young people were slaughtered and 527 wounded in Los Vegas by the son of a convicted bank robber. His AR-15 military style weapon was converted to function like a machine gun with a legally purchased “bump stock.”

This February, seventeen children and adults were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Children who survived the Parkland massacre organized to defend their generation against this genocide. Over 800,000 children and adults marched on Washington D.C. to protest gun violence and seek better protections. More than a million others demonstrated in the U.S. and around the world in support.  Thus far no legislation has reached the President’s desk, though the President has suggested that more guns in schools might be a good solution.  Senator Santorum (R-Pa) suggested that instead of marching on Washington, the students might learn CPR.

What can be drawn from this history?

You can kill and maim hundreds of children with little or no action to improve child safety in schools, but shoot a few politicians and major gun legislation will soon follow.

W. Douglas Smith is an environmental scientist, environmental diplomat, explorer, educator and a retired Senior Compliance Investigator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he worked for 36 years.

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