February 16, 2018

Tragedy on the Day of Love

Tragedy on the Day of Love

Wednesday morning started out as Valentine’s Day usually does for most of us. In our house, Tracy and I had breakfast with Lily, Kate & Max, eating heart-shaped pancakes, exchanging Valentine’s cards, sharing hugs and I love you’s, and then off to work and school. As we were all arriving home later that day, ready for heart-shaped raviolis and the heart-shaped frosted chocolate cake, news was breaking about the tragic high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history (after Newtown, CT) had just occurred, leaving 17 dead and 15 injured. We were about to celebrate, at just the moment 17 families were trying to process the unimaginable. Their loved ones — many of them children; others, adults who worked there — had left for school that morning, never to be coming home again. There are simply no words…

Parkland, like Newtown, sounds like an ideal place to raise a family, maybe just a little (or a lot) warmer. Western Broward County, where Parkland is located, is part of Marcum’s South Florida business community, not too far from our Fort Lauderdale office. It’s the kind of place that ordinarily reads about headlines and doesn’t make them, just like Newtown. It was thought to be a safe, suburban, bedroom community. Well, not Wednesday. Parkland will forever be associated with mass tragedy.

First and foremost, we offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of those taken in Wednesday’s massacre and our prayers for a speedy and full recovery for those wounded. Words can never make up for the loss of a loved one, particularly a child, the most unimaginable loss possible – but they’re all we’re left with. Our hearts are simply breaking.

So, how many more school shootings have to occur, how many more children have to perish, before our elected officials do something about it? I know I’m going to get in trouble with some of you for what’s to come, but it has to be said. But before I get there, let me state I’m a firm believer in and supporter of rights granted Americans by the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to bear arms. I get it. What I don’t get is why the Second Amendment protects the “right” of a 19-year-old, with obvious mental health issues, to purchase an AR-15 assault weapon for the sole purpose of killing a lot of people very quickly. Our forefathers never could have imagined the invention of automatic weapons or their use in the mass murder of innocent Americans. They did not intend to condone and legalize these heinous acts.

No one needs an assault weapon to hunt. No one needs an assault weapon to protect their family in their own home. No one needs an assault weapon for skeet shooting or target practice. No one needs an assault weapon for any good purpose. All they do is kill a lot of people very quickly. No one needs one – period! (Let’s leave the military and law enforcement out of this, for the point I’m trying to make).

What’s it going to take? Something tragic like this happening at the school that some Congressperson’s children attend? Or the school that a U.S. Senator’s grandchildren attend? Parkland was the 18th — yes 18th — school shooting this year. That’s 18 school shootings in 45 days. The insanity has to stop! Our children need safe schools, and we need to know that our children and the adults entrusted to nurture them will not be mowed down by an assault weapon when the school fire alarm is sounded, as it was in Parkland on Wednesday, as a way to lure innocent students out of their classrooms and into the line of fire.

An assault weapons ban is not a threat to the Second Amendment. No civilian needs one. Ever. Before any more innocent lives are taken, it is time for our lawmakers to act. NOW.

Hug your children, your spouses, your loved ones today; hug them tomorrow; hug them every chance you get. There are 17 families in Parkland that will never be able to do it again.