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Fear in a Safe Place

By Bob Gatty

Two young teenage boys came home the other day having been traumatized at school. That’s what happens when kids are forced to participate in active shooter drills. It makes them think, “This is real. It could absolutely happen to me.”

Those boys are the sons of Marcus Grainger and they are students at Myrtle Beach High School, where students were put through that active shooter drill.

“When they came home, they were really scared,” said Grainger. “They know how often these shootings happen in schools. And when they have a drill, it makes it real, and it makes them afraid.”

Grainger, who helped organize last year’s March for Our Lives demonstration in Myrtle Beach, is campaigning to end such drills, which he says wastes resources and unfairly stresses teachers as well as students.

Proponents of such drills say they are needed to help prepare students and teachers in the event of such an attack. But Grainger argues that the answer, instead, is to enact stronger gun laws to eliminate assault-style rifles, high capacity magazines, stronger background checks and other sensible gun laws.

“Schools should be a safe place for students and they shouldn’t have to worry about people coming in and shooting up the school,” he said. “We are now seeing more and more mass shootings happening because Congress won’t do its job and pass common sense legislation. If you care about the safety ion students, you should be pushing for gun reform legislation.”

Grainger put the blame for the gun crisis on the gun lobby and the politicians who take its cash and urged that such actions be exposed and made public. He challenged lawmakers and leaders of both political parties to make that happen.

When shooters show up at a school, Grainger said, the solution is not more guns, “At the end of the day, somebody is going to get killed,” he said. “The only person who can do anything about it is the police. The answer is to get less guns in this country, not more.”

Ironically, the active shooter drill involving Grainger’s sons occurred on the same day that it was reported in the news that nearly 150 corporate leaders from across America sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging passage of effective gun legislation.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” they said.

Grainger pointed out that polls show that even Republican voters favor a ban on assault-style rifles and stricter gun laws in general, and noted that it was not until the ban on such weapons expired in 2004 that the groundswell of mass shootings began.

“We need to put the pressure on Republican legislators and expose the money they are receiving from the gun lobby,” he said, noting that the National Rifle Association donated more than $11.4 million to President Trump’s 2016 election campaign and nearly $20 million to groups opposing Hillary Clinton’s. Here is the complete list as compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Meanwhile, Republicans who run the Senate, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are waiting for President Trump to decide if he really will support pending legislation, including expanding federal background checks for gun buyers and encouraging states to create systems to temporarily seize guns from individuals judged to be dangerous.

“I’d say there’s one word that describes Mitch McConnell’s attitude on this vital issue of life and death, and that is: duck,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). “He’s afraid of this issue, but that’s not what a leader should be doing.”

In the Democratic-controlled House, three gun-control bills that go further than background checks are ready for a floor vote. They would:

  • Encourage states to set up “red flag” laws allowing law enforcement agencies to ask a judge to remove weapons from people found to be a danger to themselves or others.
  • Establish a federal ban on ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds.
  • Add misdemeanor hate crimes to the list of offenses making an individual ineligible to buy a gun.

The House Judiciary Committee approved all three on straight party-line votes.

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