Cheney Free Press -

Managing Editor 

March for Our Lives is democracy in action


March 29, 2018

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with three Cheney High School students who are involved in the student-led movement that emerged in response to the shootings at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla. Feb. 14.

The three young women, who I won’t name right now, organized a walkout and a 17-minute period of silence at the school in remembrance of those killed last month. And they took part in last Saturday’s Spokane-area edition of the national March for Our Lives, organized by Parkland survivors.

I was impressed with all three women. Sure, they spoke in the rapid-pace, sometimes-stream-of-consciousness oratory teenagers often engage in and can lead adults to stereotype them as maybe being not so bright. My hand is still sore from writing, and it’s amazing it didn’t cramp up and shut down.

But all three knew what they were organizing for — and it is for gun control. Yes, they understand there are larger issues involved such as mental health, the state of the family in our modern society, the influence of social media and so on.

“It’s hate crime in America. It’s domestic violence,” one said. “It’s all these issues rising now.”

Those are complex and require complex solutions, and all three agreed there needs to be discussion and action. But right now, their focus is on guns, as were last Saturday’s marches.

There’s been some talk from critics of the march that the students were assisted by liberal, left-wing activist organizations. So what if they were.

If you’re starting a business, wouldn’t you want to elicit some help and advice from a current business owner? Asking for help doing something from those who have experience doing it makes a lot of sense, compared to just going it alone.

One of those groups helping with the March for Our Lives was the non-profit organization Everytown for Gun Safety. On its website under “About Us,” Everytown says it’s a “movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.”

It goes on to say that “Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.”

Getting our leaders to take “common-sense steps” on gun control is what the CHS students and others have organized around. They understand the larger problems, but right now, those problems are being resolved in their schools through gun violence.

If we can’t readily find cures for our diseases, it’s apparent to me the students believe we should try to control the spread and lethality of the diseases until we can.

It’s a point for discussion, obviously, on how we do that.

But I’m glad these students have shown the courage to publicly take up an issue impacting them and do something to try and create change. It’s interesting and amazing so see some people attempt to belittle their efforts.

After all, that’s what our democracy is about. Especially representative democracy.

As a republic, we elect our leaders to make decisions on our behalf, but we also have the right to tell them when we don’t like the decisions they have made and want them changed. We have that right, and that’s exactly what students are doing — peaceably assembling and petitioning government for a redress of grievances.

For those doing so right now, their grievance is the state of firearms in this country today. It impacts them directly, and they’re doing something about it.

I commend them for this. In a country where many don’t take the time to use another right and vote, at least some are practicing democracy the Founders envisioned.

John McCallum can be reached at


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