It was a gloomy afternoon in Parkland, Fla., the town where 17 students and faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost their lives in a tragic shooting just eight days prior. The weather seemed to match the mood, one of lingering dreary sadness. Between the shooting and when I visited eight days later, a makeshift memorial comprised of photos, flowers, and stuffed animals had become the centerpiece of a harrowing scene.
Though a crowd had amassed, it was peaceful. Had I not known the circumstances, I'd have even called the setting serene. Instead, the silence was deafening, though it carried a profound message: We need change, and we need it now. I visited the school because I felt it was my duty as a human being, but perhaps more so as a lawmaker. Those of us who have been elected to serve the people have a duty to protect them as well. We have the power to fix the mass shooting problem in this country, and we need to do it swiftly.
Gina Montalto—the daughter of my wife's coworker's friend—was among the victims. When you see something like this, you can't help but wonder what if that was my child? And I know now that I'll be haunted by this memorial forever. I have three children and three grandchildren, and the thought that something like this could happen to any of them scares me; it should frighten every parent in America.
This isn't a partisan issue; it's about making sure our children never end up on the wrong side of a gun at school. To do that, what we really need is common sense gun reform: safe ownership and usage of legally obtained firearms—guns that can't shoot off multiple rounds in less than a minute.
I would like to see the national adoption of permit-to-purchase, and I don't believe convicted felons and perpetrators of violent misdemeanors should be allowed to purchase firearms. Hunting enthusiasts can have their pistols and rifles if they can pass rigorous background checks. That's how I would interpret the 2nd Amendment.
It seems the real issue here is that essentially anyone can get their hands on a semi-automatic weapon. That kind of firearm doesn't belong in the possession of a civilian. Outside of war and the hands of a trained soldier, these are weapons of mass destruction, meant only to injure other citizens.
These measures aren't extreme, but sacrificing dozens of children a year to appease the gun lobby is. We need to fight to make sure that the deaths of the 17 Parkland victims mark the beginning of the end of school shootings.
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.