The founders of the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council (CCHRC) looked to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights for our fundamental principles, and the UN’s Declaration has “no comment” on the right to bear arms or gun control. As Americans, we are bound by the Constitution and its amendments. Many of us may believe, personally, that common-sense changes should be made regarding the interpretation of the Second Amendment, but the CCHRC does not have a position on gun control. Nevertheless, it has been fascinating to follow the efforts of the teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland Florida as they passionately petitioned their state and national government to bring about changes that aim to decrease gun violence and increase safety in schools.
As parents of teenagers, we are so impressed with the poise that the Parkland students have shown in articulating their views in front of the national press. In the days and weeks after the massacre, these high schoolers proved that they were not too young to understand the issues. They held their own against NRA lobbyists and skeptical politicians. Will the momentum for change continue in the wake of the March 24th “March for Our Lives” rallies in Washington and around the country? It is impossible to tell, but these teenagers have already brought about modest changes to the Florida gun laws, and their passion has been inspirational.
The CCHRC has been reexamining our role during these times when human rights are under assault. After brainstorm sessions, discussions, and debates, we have narrowed dozens of good ideas down to a handful that are practical and meaningful. We will winnow these down further, but one of our major initiatives will be to reach out to teenagers at local schools and hear their concerns about the future and human rights. We need to tap into their idealism and vision. The focused passion of the Parkland students reminds us of Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Rob Morrison & Louisa Paushter