I recently enjoyed a week of balmy weather in Florida, about 35 miles from Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland. The effects of the school slaughter were ever present.

The Miami Herald and the local Florida media concentrated on the disappointing “reformed” gun laws that Florida Governor Rich Scott signed into law. The “reform changes” were merely to advance age eligibility from 18 to 21 and expand the budget to cover costs of better background checks and school security, including allowing teachers to carry guns. No reference was made related to assault weapons or other military or rapid-firing arms which, of course, continue to be legal to buy, own, or use. An additional insult to those seeking reformed gun laws, the Florida governor, along with the Legislature, demonstrated the strong NRA influence by providing a tax benefit for the assault weapon manufacturer in Florida, Smith and Wesson.

Florida television and other news media expressed extreme outrage at the lack of sensitivity displayed by the state’s administration. For several days, the news emphasized this issue almost to the exclusion of the other local, state, and federal news. 

The response by the students and their support groups was both amazing and inspiring. Instead of losing their determination to establish strong gun laws to help rid our nation of mass killings, they are persevering with more determination than ever!

I certainly support their efforts. These young folks are setting an example for us to follow. We seniors must respond by using whatever means we have to fight against the plethora of issues that are continuing to increase daily. 

We are overwhelmed by this chaotic Trump world. It would be easy to become despondent when our efforts may seem useless. But we know (even more than our youth does) that patience is necessary to succeed — and we will!

We cannot allow health care reform to be abolished or permit the revocation of safety laws for our air, water, and environment. We must encourage permission for a permanent stay for our “Dreamers,” and fight against abuse of our immigrants. (The ACLU brought suit against the U.S. Immigration Service because of their deplorable practice of separating children from their parents when those parents may be subject to deportation.)

We must raise our objections to racist decisions, unfair laws, and the misuse of power to demean our FBI in order to divert from the Russian election interference investigation. 

We must urge, support, and cooperate with our world partners and the watchdogs for our civil rights.

Unfortunately, our President’s personal vulgarity and outrageous behavior adds to our nation’s problems. It is more than an embarrassment because it is the center of our nation’s discussion rather than any focus on solving our problems.

Therefore, let us, by our phone calls, emails, texting, and even letter writing, help face our problems. We can change our nation’s direction.

At this point, I must admit, although I am aware of the uncaring, hurtful laws President Trump has initiated, I feel some sadness for him. He is alone, he is drowning in his own hate and seems only to care for his immediate family and his admiration for despot Putin!

How fortunate we are — we have each other, and we care.

Harriet Hausman is a longtime member of the ACLU and a longtime resident of River Forest.

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