Congress Member Carolyn Maloney with student protesters in Washington (Photo courtesy of Congress Member Carolyn Maloney)
By Sabina Mollot
State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been pushing for stronger gun laws for years, was in Albany on Wednesday negotiating Republican-proposed budget measures as the walkouts were taking place. His own second-grade daughter Silvia Hoylman-Sigal was participating in one of them at her school.
However, when reached on the phone, Hoylman said that gun control bills, including his own, have recently been blocked by the Republican majority before they could even be heard on the floor.
This includes his own legislation, co-sponsored with State Senator Brian Kavanagh, which would allow families and law enforcement officials to intervene when a person known to be dangerous has a gun.
Across the nation, students participated in a 17-minute walkout from their schools on Wednesday morning as a protest against gun violence. One school with many protesters was Gramercy’s School of the Future. Town & Village intern Kristy Ye-Ling, a high school student there, attended and reported a crowd outside of Gramercy Park that appeared to be over 1,000 strong. Students circled the park while chanting and holding signs that read things like “We shouldn’t be afraid to go to school!” and “Parkland? Yikes!” The high school walkouts were in response to last month’s massacre at the Parkland, Florida high school where a disturbed 19-year-old shot 17 people to death. (Photos by Kristy Ye-Ling)
I am reminded that in the 1960s when I was a teenager growing up in Stuyvesant Town and attending the local public schools, it was largely student agitation and protests that helped bring an end to the Vietnam War. In so doing they brought down a president. After all, most of the 58,000 American deaths were of kids barely out of high school.
Tragic events and fate now summons this generation of students and the millennials to do what their parents and grandparents have not been able to do, to stop the insane gun proliferation and resulting carnage funded by the NRA, and fueled by billion-dollar gun manufacturers who keep pumping out more and more lethal firearms. After all, it is so many students who are the victims of mass school shootings, the latest a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The thing about idealistic youth is that they know no limits and don’t know what they are not supposed to be able to achieve. And it is in this naïveté where success is realized. Won against all odds. Won in spite of the naysayers and pundits who say it cannot be done. The sports analogy would be a 22- year-old Cassius Clay boxing for the World’s Heavyweight Championship against Sonny Liston the toughest prizefighter on the planet. Or the 1980 upstart U.S. Olympic hockey team comprised of kids facing off against the awesome unbeatable Russian national team in Lake Placid.