After The Parkland Massacre: Gun Control Progress Report

Prologue: It was Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018 when a 19 year old gunman walked into Parkland High School in Florida and murdered fourteen students and three staff nenbers with a AR-15 rifle in six minutes.   During the two weeks since then, something different has been happening across the country compared with the  aftermaths that followed  continued mass shootings since Columbine High School in l999 in Colorado. Certain recent names reverberate:  Orlando, Florida-Pulse nightclub; Las Vegas, Nevada –music festival;  Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Elementary school.  Horror , grief, outcry from the public brought attempts each time to pass federal gun control laws for background checks and a ban on assault weapons.  They all eventually failed when the National Rifle Association ( N.R.A.) built its power over members of Congress to vote “No”!

Different Aftermath to Parkland: The three thousand high school students turned their grief into action. They became galvanized , declaring “We will change the laws!”  On Saturday, students held a rally at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.  They waved handmade signs, shouted into a microphone and chanted.  Emma Gonzalez, an 18 year-old senior, electrified the crowd with her passionate words.  She pledged that her school would be the last mass shooting.  An hour later,  a video of her speech had been viewed 100,000 times!

She was informed, angry and explicit: “The people in the government who are in power, are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.  They say that tougher laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S.  They say, ‘A good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun’  — we call B.S. They say that guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars —we call B.S! That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works—we call B.S.!” Then, she paused, wiped her eyes and urged everyone in the crowd to vote in November and give their elected officials, “a piece of your mind”. “ This is the way I have to grieve.  I have to make sure that everybody knows, this is something that isn’t allowed to happen.”

In the days that followed, three busloads of Parkland students traveled 450 miles to Tallahassee, the state capital with parents and teachers.  On the way, they heard that the State legislature had voted NOT TO TAKE UP a possible ban on assault weapons as certain other states have done.  They were angered and disappointed but continued on the way.  David Hogg, a senior and student news director, told CNN. “ We’re children. You guys are the adults.” We need to do something. We need to be politically active. This is about guns.” Tyra Hemans,  l9, a senior, had taken a poster with the word ENOUGH to a funeral of a classmate, said, “Change is going to come of this.” After the protest ended, a group stayed, chanting and hugging.  One sign read, “My friend died for what?”  Another, “It could have been us.”  They yelled, “No more guns.  No more guns.”

Across the country, students and their parents formed the core of the Gun Control Movement that has built rapidly.  By Monday, February 19, a group called Teens for Gun Reform was pictured in color on the front page of the New York Times conducting a lie-in near the White House.  A nationwide March against Guns is planned for March 24, aided by the organizers of the huge Women’s Marches after Trump’s inauguration.  On Tuesday, February 20, there were walkouts from schools to commemorate Parkland and voice their support.   Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have spread the movement.  The students are optimistic that their participation will make a difference.  Julia Bishop, 18, on one of the buses to Tallahassee had said, “We definitely have a moral obligation to do something. These adults, these politician, these lawmakers, these legislators, they were supposed to protect us. And they didn’t.”

Newspaper and magazine advertisements present names of Representatives and Senators with Dollars they receive from the N.R.A and phone numbers. 

On February 21, a two page spread appeared in The New York Times, from Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.  On the left was a picture of Parkland students walking out of the school in file on February 14.  In huge black letters were the words, “We’re  children. You guys are adults… get something done.”   Parkland School shooting Survivor.  On the right page was the list of hundreds of names of Representatives and Senators in the 50 states, alphabetically with Alabama first. The heading at the top: These Members of Congress Take NRA Money, But Refuse to Take Action To Pass Gun Safety Legislation.  Tell Your Member of Congress that Your Vote is Going Elsewhere Unless They Act.  In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the Senate who will control whether Gun Control is even debated received $825,375.  In Florida, Marco Rubio was listed at over one million. ( In another listing in the New York Times, his number was three million, three hundred thousand plus.) The entire page was filled with names.  At the bottom was “If They Won’t Act, It’s Up to Us to Elect Leaders Who Will.

An article in The New York Times by David Leonhardt, October, 2017 was reprinted after Parkland with the ten Senators and Ten Representatives who received the most money from the NRA.  It also included important information:  Of the top one hundred Representatives who receive dollars from the NRA, ninety five are Republicans.  In The Senate, the top Democrats receiving NRA money  are Joe Manchin and Patrick Leahy of Vermont who rank 52 and 53 behind every Republican except Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Boycott against the N.R.A.   Corporations that have joined are from different areas and industries.   United and Delta Airlines will discontinue discounts to N.R.A. related flights.  Car Rentals that have joined the boycott include: Avis,  Hertz, Alamo, Budget, National, Enterprise. Met Life Insurance joined.

Cable Television has taken an active role since Parkland. CNN held a major Town Meeting with thousands of participants on February 21 in Sunrise, Florida. It was scheduled for two hours, from nine to eleven.   On center stage were Parkland students and parents to debate and ask questions of Democratic Senators Bill Nelson,Democrat and Marco Rubio,Republican,and Democratic Representative Ted Deutsch.  Governor Rick Scott, Republican  was invited but did not attend.  N.R.A. Spokesperson Dana Loesch attended. CNN Jake Tapper was the moderator.  The entire two hours were filled with students speaking truth to power and seeking assurances from Rubio that he would change his support for the NRA.  Thousands rose and roared when Deutsch began by saying that Rubio and Trump “were weak in their responses to the massacre.”   When a young survivor stood face to face with Rubio and asked, “Will you commit to giving up NRA money?”  thousands rose again and thundered.  Rubio tried to explain his position but did not make that commitment.  During the second hour, The NRA spokeswoman was booed repeatedly when she answered students questions.

During the February 21 afternoon,  Donald Trump had held a Listening Hour at the White House.  Student survivors and their parents had been invited to join him, sitting in a circle to talk together.  It was a completely different setting filmed live by the press.  He welcomed them and listened intently to their comments and questions. ( The cameras caught the white note card he held with typed responses to express empathy.  )  He had visited several injured students in the Florida hospital the weekend after the shooting. When the hour ended, he asked for ideas and was most taken with the father who suggested teachers should carry guns. In the days that followed, training “adept teachers” who would “conceal carry “  was tweeted and shared in interviews as his main solution, with a “bonus” for the teachers.  The NRA , of course, was in full support.The New York Times lead editorial on February 23, “Let the Teachers Teach”.  Every gun expert in the country was against the idea knowing that even trained police have misfires with moving targets.

Four Northeast States agree to share Gun Safety data:  New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island, with the lowest rates of gun deaths in the U.S. will work to give information to Florida and other states. All have Democratic governors and control of their legislatures.

Epilogue: The Supreme Court ,on February 21, refused a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that sets a ten day waiting period for firearms purchases.   California with a ban on assault weapons has been in the lead for gun safety for years. This decision sent a strong positive signal to the passionate young survivors of the Parkland Massacre —that the highest court in the land appears to be on their side in their fight to “change the laws” in the months ahead.

………………………………………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson


















Three Hundred Million Guns: Can We Keep Our School Children Safe?

The United States leads all advanced countries with our number of guns and mass shootings in schools.  Every day dozens of Americans are killed by guns.  Over 32,000 deaths occur every year; 40 percent homicides and 60 percent suicides. A  gun is the main weapon. Local newspapers and TV  report local people who died as a part of their daily coverage.  Yet, when a shooting occurs in one of our schools, horror and shock engulfs the entire nation.  Columbine High School in Colorado was first when two seniors gunned down 12 students and one teacher in a carefully planned attack.  That was 1999.   It is now 2018 and the high school in Parkland, Florida was where a 19 year old gunman killed seventeen and wounded fourteen students and adults with an AR-15 assault rifle.  He carried multiple rounds of ammunition.

After each mass shooting occurred, there have been renewed attempts to tighten gun control laws in the individual states and the federal government. The most effective federal law ever passed was the Ban on Assault Weapons passed in 1994 during the Bill Clinton Democratic administration. It had a ten year duration, but failed revewal after 2004. Over the ten years it had been in effect, the rate of deaths by those weapons fell across the country. That was also the time that the National Rifle Association, N.R.A., built its power over members of Congress, They  set up their report card for each member’s voting record,  and made significant dollar contributions to their two year renewal campaigns.

After the Newtown, Connecticut massacre of twenty first-grade children and their teachers on December 12, 2012,  the state was able to pass a ban on assault weapons.  New York, a neighboring state also passed an assault ban.  At present, California,  four other states and the District of Columbia have also passed assault weapons bans. The laws include magazines that shoot multiple rounds in seconds. Newtown had an impact on the entire country.  Parents and legislators organized and fought long and hard battles against the N.R.A. In Congress Senators Manchin and Toomey led the attempt to pass a law fo background checks, closing loop holes at gun shows and on the internet. The law had the support of 85 percent of the American public.  The N.R.A. became active in the halls of Congress and the failed. to pass. On June 20, 2016, the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Connecticut and New York laws banning assault weapons. It was a welcome victory for gun control advocates.

After a mass shooting, gun sales often increase, especially for semi-automatic rifles. Those people most concerned that the government will pass restrictive laws appear to be anxious to stock up before a ban occurs. The Second Amendment credo of the N.R.A. increases in volume and intensity among militia members in the NorthWest.  They are ever anxious that the helicopters will be landing to take away their guns. Conspiracy theories rise and fall over the years, documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the best source for information on Hate Groups in the United States.

After shootings in the nation’s schools, presidents have spoken to the country, to assuage grief and bring comfort to the families who have lost their children.  Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each addressed the entire nation. Donald Trump did speak to the country, emphasizing the mental health issue. He made no mention of guns. It is relevant to note that earlier in his administration, Trump approved the removal of an Obama regulation that would prevent people with mental disabilities from buying guns.  When he was asked by critics about the need for tighter restrictions on guns, he replied by urging Americans to report behavior of “mentally disturbed people” to the authorities.   His position is reflected in the statements by Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.  When asked by reporters whether it was time for more control of  assault rifles, he said we need more facts before rushing ahead.   In earlier years, after the Orlando Massacre,  with 49 dead and 43 injured,  Speaker Ryan called sit-ins in the House by Democrats led by Civil Rights icon, John Lewis “a publicity stunt”.

Parkland High School had prepared their teachers and students for possible fires or violence with drills that would protect them in either case.  Thus, when the killer set off the fire alarm, they began to leave the building in order. They then returned to classrooms to take refuge in closets with their teachers until an all clear sounded. Tragically, the killer entered the building and began shooting.

After every mass shooting, the N.R.A. advocates placing armed guards in every school in the country.   School districts have not chosen to take that path to safety.  The N.R.A. has a mantra they promote whenever possible, “It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”   That slogan is aimed at increasing gun sales, including assault rifles.  The state of Florida allows a person to buy the AR-15 rifle and multiple rounds at the age of eighteen.  When Florida Governor Scott was asked about changing that law, he avoided being specific in his answer.

Keeping our schools safe rests in the hands of the members of Congress. All 435 members of the House of Representatives will be up for election in  November, 2018.  The Midterms give every eligible American a chance to vote for their representative.  Find out their position on passing Gun Control laws; background checks , closing loopholes at gun shows and internet, and a ban on assault rifles. We have all witnessed too many candle light vigils, flags at half mast, moments of silence and heart broken parents since Columbine.  It is long past the time to take action to stop the escalating proliferation of  guns and assault weapons in our schools and our nation.

……………………………………………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson







Danger Ahead: Constitutional Crisis Accelerating!

Prologue:  Every day in public schools across the nation, children stand and “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands” ….   Early each morning, Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, turns on TV and watches Fox News to see what is happening in the country and the world.   All modern presidents have received the PDB, President’s Daily Briefing from the Intelligence Agencies every morning. When Trump refused to read them, the staff added graphs, charts and pictures, describing the key information. This approach was not successful.   The president, after a full year, does not accept the conclusions of the sixteen intelligence agencies that Russia interfered heavily in the 2016 election.  He has fired major officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. Federal Bureau of Investigation, including Sally Yates, deputy attorney general and James Comey, director of the F.B.I. Trump constantly attacks special counsel Robert Mueller III and calls the Russia investigation “a witch hunt”.  There is concern that he may fire Rod Rosenstein, the current Deputy Attorney General at DOJ in order to fire Rober Mueller.

On Friday evening , February 10, there was mixed Breaking News:  A looming government shutdown had been averted after Congress passed the Budget.  However, the White House announced that Trump would not release the Democratic Intelligence  Memo in response to Devin Nunes Republican Memo.  And Chief of Staff, John Kelly might resign over his role in staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation over allegations of spousal abuse.  Cable news panels discussed the chaotic atmosphere in the White  House with the president staying in the background while reporters talked with different staff members.

Donald Trump is the first president who never held political office nor served in the country’s military.   His concept of presidential powers throughout the year has shown a lack of knowledge about his responsibilities and powers within our three branches of government. And the role of the free press which he calls “the enemy of the people”.  Let’s pause and look back once more on how the Constitution was written.


During the long hot summer of 1787, the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were conducted in secrecy.  When the proceedings finally ended, anxious citizens waited outside the doors.  A famous interchange occurred when Benjamin Franklin emerged, and was asked by one of the women, Mrs. Powell, “Well, Doctor, what have we got?  A republic or a democracy?” Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” He did not say,  “a democracy.”

What’s the difference between a republic and a democracy?  And why does this issue matter today —over two hundred years later? The difference between a republic and a democracy is fundamental , not just a matter of semantics. The word ‘republic’ comes from Latin, “res publica” – which means the ‘public things’ or ‘the laws “.  The word ‘democracy’ comes from two Greek words, ‘demos’ and ‘kratein’ translating into ‘the people rule’  or  ‘majority rule ’.  James Madison, known as the father of The Constitution,  insisted in The Federalist, No. Ten,  that the new Constitution had established a republic  not a democracy.  He emphasized that “a Republican form of government protected the people from the dangers of the tyranny of the majority.

At the heart of a democracy is the concept of majority rule.  In a republic, the power of the majority is subordinated to the rule of law and the protection of minority rights. The founders set up a system of government with separation of powers, and checks and balances to prevent the majority from imposing its will without restraints. It is important to note that Article One is the Legislative branch.  It is the longest and most complete. Article Two is the executive branch.  And Article Three is the Judiciary.  They also approved the Bill of Rights in 1791 – the first Ten Amendments – to protect citizens against the powers of their government.  The freedoms of religion, speech, the press and the right to assemble to petition for grievance are all in the First Amendment.  They guarantee minorities and all the people against majority rule.

It is now February, 2018 and the American people are witnessing huge dramatic changes in our federal government.  The legislative and executive branches are controlled by the Republican Party.  Paul Ryan, The Speaker of the House of Representatives is a Republican.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, is a Republican. President Donald J. Trump is a Republican.  The judicial branch of nine justices has a five/four split between Conservative and Liberal opinions with Justice Kennedy seen as the “swing vote”.

The level of bitter bi-partisanship reached its apex when Senator McConnell would not allow President Barack Obama’s nominee for the open seat on the Supreme Court to have the confirmation hearing and vote that was the right of the president under the Constitution.  Thus, Judge Merrick Garland, highly qualified and respected chief of the Second Circuit of Appeals never was given that opportunity. As informed citizens, we witnessed the “tyranny of the majority” in action.

Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “ Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.”  Alexander Hamilton warned at the Convention, “We are a Republican government. Real liberty is never found in  despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.” Finally, John Marshall, who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835, and created the principle of judicial review, wrote, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

Although we “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands”, many people today think of country as a democracy rather than a republic. This 20th century emphasis on a democracy can be traced to Woodrow Wilson’s famous 1916 appeal to the nation on entering World War I that “we would make the world safe for democracy.” And Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 with his insistence that “ America must be the great arsenal of democracy” to rush aid to England during the Nazi Blitz of the British Isles in World War II.

Historians agree that Donald  J. Trump is very different from any previous president in American history. He prides himself on being a very successful business man with a vast worldwide real estate empire.  His home was The Trump Tower in New York City before he  won the  November 2016 presidential election, passing 270 votes in the Electoral College.  His opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the popular tally with over 3.5 million more votes.  Trump has introduced Twitter as his means of communication with his base of millions and the world at large.  He is the first president to use the mass media and makes sure he is the cable TV story of the day from early a.m. hours.  Trump held a very negative opinion of reporters during the campaign that has worsened since his inauguration. He repeats endlessly, “They give fake news every day.”

Since his inauguration on January 20, 2017,  there has been a growing resistance movement, starting with The Women’s March on January 21.  Millions of women, men and children gathered in cities and towns across the nation to protest Donald Trump’s election – the largest marches in the nation’s history.  Successive Saturdays have seen protest marches continue.

Other forms of resistance to Donald Trump and his policies include the Sanctuary Cities across the country who have refused to cooperate with Federal agents of ICE who come to round up undocumented immigrants for deportation.  These cities found alternate funding to federal monies that would be denied to them. Other resisters are The Indivisibles, groups of people nationwide that oppose Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  They support  clean energy like wind and solar versus the E.P.A. policies under Secretary Pruitt  overturning Obama’s  regulations that promoted clean air, water and safe working conditions

There is a struggle going on across the United States where people are asserting their belief in the words of  The Preamble to The Constitution,  “We the people of the United States….”  And the First Amendment giving them “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

What is happening today is proof that the United States is indeed a republic —based on laws protecting the people from the tyranny of the majority.  We have a president who is just learning that the executive can be checked in his powers by the Courts and the Congress.  The people are asserting their rights and opinions to the representatives they elected. The Midterm elections in November may change the House and even the Senate.  The free press is doing their job questioning and holding elected officials to their responsibilities under the law.  It is now up to our elected president, senators and representatives to be true to the oaths of office they each swore to uphold.

………………………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson






Memo Conspiracy Against The F.B.I. and The Justice Department!


Prologue: Today is Sunday, February 4 when the Super Bowl is the number one story on cable  television.  President Trump will be in Florida at Mar-a-Lago glued to his TV screen along with untold millions of American sports fans.  We will all have a respite from the explosive news story of the past two weeks –let’s call it Memo Madness.  Here’s a brief summary of the highlights.

Story: Devin  Nunes, the Republican chairman of the  House Intelligence Committee , announced that he would release a critical memo written by his aides based on classified F.I.S.A.  (Federal Information Surveillance Act) about the activity of Carter Page, a  Trump Foreign Policy expert.   Nunes had been recused as chairman after the “Midnight Run” episode  several months earlier when he ran to the White House to alert Trump of possible damaging intelligence information. However, Nunes with the approval of Speaker Paul Ryan, returned to lead the Intelligence Committee and issue subpoenas.  When he announced the imminent release of the F.I.S.A. classified memo, it exploded on Fox News as proof that the F.B.I. investigation by Counsel Robert Mueller was corrupt and should be rejected as proof that it was  indeed the “witch hunt” Trump continues to call it.  Republican supporters immediately took up the drumbeat, appearing on TV news coverage with their slogan, “Release the Memo!”   Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee wrote a separate Memo refuting the claims in the original with facts, but were voted down in a party line vote from having their memo released.  Adam Schiff, ranking Democratic member, appeared on Cable News to present these events to the public.

The president had told Lester Holt on TV –and the world– that he had fired F.B.I. Director  James Comey over “the Russia thing” .  It  was the start of months of his tweets , attacking members of the Justice Department  he believed should have “protected him”  from unfair accusations. He had asked Comey for “loyalty to him” and Comey’s refusal led directly to being fired.  Trump next turned on Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he recused himself from the Russia Investigation.  He blamed Sessions for not telling him that he would do that in advance, tweeting, “ I wouldn’t have appointed him if I knew he would do that.”   When Rod Rosenstein was chosen as Deputy Attorney General of the Justice Department,  he appointed Robert Mueller to lead the Russia investigation.  In effect, he became the next target for Trump’s displeasure and constant disparagement.

Throughout the past months, the Russia investigation continued with interviews of  multiple government officials including members of the White House Administration.  Certain events became central, including the meeting at Trump Tower during June, 2016  when Donald Trump Jr. , Jared Kushner and other administration personnel met with Russian officials including a woman well known as a leading spy . E-mails surfaced between Trump Jr. and the Russians promising “dirt on Hillary Clinton”.  Trump Jr,’s  response,  “ I love it!” is on record.  It also became known that Donald Trump  when flying back from Europe  knew of the meeting and did not want any connection with discussion of “removing sanctions” .  He wrote an alternate version of the meeting topic  as “adoption of Russian orphans” while on the plane.    This account became public knowledge.  Most recently, Mueller has been zeroing in on members of the White House staff and has indicated he planned to interview the president.  Trump responded positively, with the caveat that his lawyers would need to agree.

During the past months, both houses of Congress passed additional sanctions against  Russia to punish their proven interference in the  2016 election.  The combined votes in the House and Senate were only five short of unanimous.  Trump signed grudgingly but has failed to implement the sanctions.  He continues to doubt the Intelligence findings, and praises Putin whenever possible.  He also shows no interest in preparing to stop interference by Russia in the coming midterm elections which Democratic Congressional members call for.

The White House received a copy of the memo on  Monday night, January 29.   That afternoon, Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. Director and Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General had gone to the White House, hoping to get their cooperation in delaying the vote to send the memo to the President. They spoke with Chief of Staff John  Kelly but were not successful.  Trump had five days to decide whether to declassify top secret information about the F.I.S.A. process  included in the memo.  Tuesday , as he left the State of the Union meeting, he answered questions about releasing the memo with “l00 percent release.”

The three and one half page memo was released to Fox News on Friday night with much fanfare from Sean Hannity who hailed it as proving the  “corrupt investigation of the president”.  In reality, it contained  almost no information connected to Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Carter Page had been under government surveillance for three years before he joined Trump’s team. Saturday’s cable news shows focused on copies of the memo dissected by former Intelligence officials ,  political analysts and prosecuting attorneys.  The overall conclusion of most who had read the entire memo  was that it was a  “Dud”.  Nunes had never read the “top secret” classified F.I.S.A. information himself.

Saturday, Februrary 3, The New York Times published the entire Nunes Memo with annotations on the side that gave a factual critique of each major statement.  Although the release of the Democratic memo from the Intelligence committee had not been voted out, another  rebuttal memo was released by  Jerry Nadler, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat of New York.  It was a ten page detailed legal analysis of the Nunes memo.  The battle was indeed joined.

Epilogue: The free press in this country serves as a major institutional check on the three branches of our federal government;  the legislative Congress,  the executive President and the judiciary Courts.  If Trump were more familiar with the Constitution, he would know that Article I was most important to the framers who had rebelled against the autocratic rule of England’s King.  It is a much longer article of responsibilities and powers than Article II , the executive and Artlcle III, the Judiciary.  Khizr Khan was right on target when he offered Trump his copy of The Constitution during his speech at the Democratic Convention  in 2016.

……………………………………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

*”An American Family”  A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan .  Highly recommended reading.  Available on Amazon.  Hard cover.