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Other View: Pay attention to students protesting gun violence

From the editorial: "It can't be too soon for the younger generations to replace the tired old men of Congress who've had their chance to make a better world and who have failed miserably."

Students from across the Twin Cities marched down Marshall Avenue from St. Paul Central High School to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul to demonstrate against gun violence Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press
Students from across the Twin Cities marched down Marshall Avenue from St. Paul Central High School to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul in March 2018 to demonstrate against gun violence.
St. Paul Pioneer Press
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High school students walked out of schools last week in Minneapolis and elsewhere to push for changing gun laws and improving school safety. It was good to see. Youth can be the group that creates change where adults have failed on these issues.

Demographics favor youth-led change, as Gen Zers, those now in high school, are the third-largest population group in the U.S. at 68 million. Combined with millennials, those in their 20s and 30s, at 73.2 million, young people are double the size of baby boomers at 71 million.

With those numbers, they can achieve what their parents have not in terms of reining in gun violence, restricting large-magazine assault weapons, and making schools safer. A Congress of increasingly aging and mostly conservative white men has for at least two decades been unreasonably unwilling to do anything about gun violence, especially since the assault-weapon ban expired in 2004.

Research into generations shows the Gen Zers and millennials will be more diverse socially and ethnically and will more readily embrace social change for things like gun laws. That's good to know, and baby boomers and others should support those efforts any way they can.

It can't be too soon for the younger generations to replace the tired old men of Congress who've had their chance to make a better world and who have failed miserably.

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Of course, millennials and Gen Zers rightly blame their parents for the world they have left them. The planet is on fire with climate change, violence is rampant, and a government for the people seems to be mostly against the people. Zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 are created in a petri dish that is tainted by a degraded environment where too many of the hungry and sick are forced to move into overcrowded places where others are hungry and sick.

The Minneapolis students asked for such common-sense things as school districts establishing students-and-teachers advisory panels to make "actionable" recommendations on reducing gun violence in schools. They asked the Minnesota Legislature to ban AR-15 rifles and for the state to reduce active-shooter drills from five per year to two. The drills, the students argued, unnecessarily traumatize them.

In a bit of irony and a statement to the flawed direction offered by the older generation to young, the students protesting in Minneapolis were reminded of school policies that mark them tardy or absent while protesting a world that's smothering them. Protesting and supporting causes to make the world safer are the best lessons students can get.

It's unfair to put all this on the shoulders of the younger generations. Commencement speakers often wrongly issue such a charge to graduates.

We can all hope the young learn from the mistakes of their elders — and get the support they deserve when peacefully taking to the streets.

— The Free Press of Mankato, Minnesota

Related Topics: GUNSSTUDENTS IN THE NEWS
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