The Stoneman Douglas students’ passion and eloquence were front and center at a “town hall” discussion put on by CNN in Sunrise, Florida, on February 21st. Looking at it from an educator’s point of view, I was impressed by the courage of those young people who stood up to speak truth to power. They appeared not to be at all intimidated by the fact that their interlocutors happened to be two US senators, a member of the US House of Representatives, a member of local law enforcement, and a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. And they have not been cowed by the disgraceful attacks, conveyed via social and other media, on their authenticity and right to speak.
During that same town hall we also heard the voices of parents and teachers. Among the latter was a history teacher who rose to question the spokesperson for the NRA about the Second Amendment. She asked:
“Define something for me... what is your definition of a well-regulated militia as stated in the Second Amendment and, using supporting detail, explain to me how an 18-year-old with a military rifle is well-regulated? And the world, our country, our nation, is going to grade your answer.”
The response? “He should have been barred from getting a firearm.” That was it. There was no definition, no supporting detail. No “why” or “how.” No substantive argument made, from any direction. Obviously, the response was a political talking point and sidestepped a question that was of an academic nature. But if that had been history class, the student wouldn’t have passed.