Today was an emotional day. As I arrived at work, I saw the support and security staff filling the parking lot, redirecting traffic in preparation for the students. It was 9:56 am. I work part-time at a school in Bethesda, and our administration had rerouted student drop off to close the circle in support of the 10 am walk-out. I had been listening to the reports of the various protests throughout Maryland, DC, and across the United States and seeing the staff in solidarity with our students, ensuring their safety as they exercised their constitutional right to peacefully assemble in a fight for their lives, I was overwhelmed by the breadth of this moment and I sat in my car and cried.
As the day wore on, I drifted back and forth between anguish and anger. Anguish and frustration that we are again in this place where our students, our children, are facing the very real task of fighting for their lives, where parents are frightened their children won’t return home at the end of the day, and where teachers, staff, and security feel frustration that they are being asked to ensure the safety of these young people against an ever growing tide of violence and apathy.
And anger, because even as this national debate rages, as our youth call for gun reforms which are echoed by both gun opponents and enthusiasts, law enforcement, military, hunters and sportsman, responsible gun owners, parents, community leaders, and politicians at the local, state and national level who question why we would need military grade weapons in civilian hands, who ask why don’t we have universal background checks, why haven’t we banned bump stocks, and how do we cultivate a culture of empathy and preventative care to nurture our youth, to encourage our young men to develop emotional connection, to connect and see the unseen and disenfranchised, and to reach out to those in crisis before they do the unthinkable; even as we continue this national debate about where we have gone wrong and the many fronts on which we must act, and a local debate on racial disparity and violence in our own school systems, as our law enforcement are still trying to ferret out the sources of threats made against our students in our local high schools here in Anne Arundel County, our representatives, my representatives in my district, district 33, are yet again introducing roll-backs on the gun reforms we already have in place.
I cannot quite express my level of rage and frustration, not only for the tone deafness of these roll-backs at a time when we are in the midst of a national discussion on gun reforms, especially given the bipartisan support for these reforms, something which made me as a Marylander proud, because we were and continue to be a national leader, but I am angry as a constituent, as an educator, as a compassionate friend, neighbor, daughter, and human, and as a candidate because not only are we being tasked with the herculean effort to solve a growing issue of toxic masculinity and a continued racial disparity which has left generations of minority men and boys wondering why their lives aren’t worth preserving, we as voters have the additional task of discovering just what our lawmakers are doing behind closed doors.
This isn’t new, because many of these bills, sponsored by the very representatives we put in office election cycle after election cycle, never see the light of day. Either they don’t make it out of committee or they don’t succeed when they come to a vote. One would think that this would suggest an unwillingness to roll back our reforms yet session after session, back they come and voters don’t even know it. So what is a voter to do? Can we trust our elected officials when they pay lip service and do nothing? Perhaps it is time for our representatives in District 33 to listen to the will of their constituents, or if not, to at least be honest about it. In this election cycle, voters are paying closer attention not only for whom they are voting, but for what. I understand the legislative process, that often a bill will be reintroduced year after year before it becomes law, but my question is, do we want to go forward and be a leader, or do we want to go backward, and be afraid? Who are these rollbacks meant to protect?
This election cycle, if you are a parent, a teacher, a neighbor, friend, responsible gun owner, democrat, republican, independent, or unaffiliated, look not just at what your representatives are saying, but look at how they are voting and what they are sponsoring. If you need help finding out, I’m here for you.