Commentary from Leon Bibb on the younger generation's actions for gun control

Posted at 7:39 PM, Feb 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-21 19:39:26-05

Out of the mouths of babes.

It means, sometimes, a child will say something which is surprising, because of its wisdom. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a new avenue in a movement. Often the younger generation can be an engine of change. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of that as high school kids are marching for more gun control after we have witnessed another horrible shooting at a high school.

We have seen young people move to the forefront before in bringing about needed change in our culture. We have seen it with student sit-ins at racially segregated lunch counters in the segregated South. We have seen it with student protests on college campuses during the controversial Vietnam War.

Out of the mouths of babes is the old saying. It speaks to a wisdom which can, at times, come from a child who speaks with an innocence. Young people - high schoolers - in this country are pushing for change in our gun laws.

The American cultural landscape has changed, because so many incidents of crazed gunmen who came running through schools. From Columbine, to Cleveland and Chardon here in Northeast Ohio, to Sandy Hook to Florida, with other gunfire in between.

In many cases, the staccato sound of assault rifle fire has disrupted the tranquility as a crazed person with his finger on the trigger has fired without regard into crowds of people in schools, churches, mosques, movie theaters, shopping malls and concerts. 

Each time, there have come shouts of the need for change in our gun laws. But those shouts and demands are too often met with other voices which say this is not the time to discuss tightening gun laws, because the grief is so heavy for the families of the victims. We hear too many politicians with little or no backbone who refuse to deal with what is right before their faces. They receive too much money and support from those who want to keep the status quo. 

Well, when is the right time to talk? When is the right time to do the right thing? Right now is always the right time to do what is right.

This country is wrestling with a lot of problems. Everything from Russian hacking into the American elections system to neo-Nazis as white supremacists marching while a disengaged president fiddles, refusing to lead, only deciding to tweet during the midnight hours.

Add to the problem the troubling scenes of violence with guns on our city and suburban and rural streets. So here we are again, wringing our hands because 17 more people - students and faculty - have been killed and another dozen-and-a-half wounded by gunfire. The staccato sound of an assault weapon broke the calm of a school day.

I long for the days of safe schools, those which I knew. But times have changed. I have grandchildren to whom I have to explain why there is such violence. They are afraid, because in their school they are constantly looking for the way out if a gunman comes running.

Now the youngest among us are demonstrating. And rightly so. They are calling for stricter gun laws. A few years ago, it was elementary school kids - many of whom could not yet spell the world "gun," who were killed when a crazed gunman came running. We saw President Obama shed tears with the families of more than 20 elementary school kids killed while they studied the alphabet and were not yet old enough to fully comprehend their multiplication tables.

Now, with the shooting in Florida, teenagers have begun to speak out of the senselessness we are living. And some of us are dying.

Often, clear-thinking youngsters have been the engines of change. Sometimes out of the mouths of babes has come a truthfulness based on their innocence. Are we seeing a new avenue in a movement? I hope so.

If not, I wonder when the gunman will again come running. And where?

I'm Leon Bibb.