Small Steps: Show solidarity with student walkout

The commitment amounts to a coffee break.

Seventeen minutes.

That is all the time anyone needs to take out of their day on March 14 to honor the memory of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School slaughter on Feb. 14.

Just over one quarter of an hour is all the time anyone need devote to stand with the students around the country who are holding an organized walk-out as part of a nationwide call, led by youth, for some earnest and palpable change in the culture of gun violence.

Hood River Valley High School students will be joined by students at both campuses of Columbia Gorge Community College in the March 14 walkout.

“Gun control” is the traditional watchphrase for all of this, but it feels as though the goal of ending gun violence is the focus among students and those who are saying “enough.”

We join them in saying “enough.”

Enough killing machines being sold in our society.

Enough laxity in background checks.

Enough dithering over age-related restrictions on weapons purchase.

Enough silence from our leaders and abject devotion to the dictates of the NRA.

Major retailers including Walmart and Dick’s have recently put principle before profit by changing how they do business, either by discontinuing semi-automatic gun sales or requiring you be 21 years or older to purchase guns. It may amount to a small shift, but any shift is welcome.

Unfortunately, the age limit rule is coming under question as a violation of constitutional rights, with a fresh law suit out of Medford, filed by a 20-year-old man who was denied a weapon purchase at Walmart.

Yet no claims of discrimination are made when 20-year-olds are told they cannot buy alcohol or marijuana. Measures such as age restrictions are a welcome step if, as a culture, we are ever to slowly get a grip on the debilitating effects of gun violence.

It is easy to claim that clamps on 21-and-over purchases is a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that Nikolas Cruz, the accused Stoneman Douglas killer, was 19. It is true that past mass slaughterers have been older. But this is a start, and it helps raise our societal consciousness.

Another small step, and a welcome one, was this month’s passage by the Oregon Legislature of measure closing the so-called “intimate partner loophole.” (Details, page A2.)

We view as a large step, meanwhile, that students are taking a 17-minute stance on March 14 and we encourage citizens to join them by stepping outside as a community gesture of support.

Flags Lowered

Rev. Billy Graham

Gov. Kate Brown last week ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff in honor of the late Rev. Billy Graham. In accordance with the proclamation issued by President Trump, flags should be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on March 2, the day of Rev. Graham’s interment. The White House also issued a national flag order.

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