By Joshua Simmons
Like many of you, I have spent the last two days mourning the tragic loss of life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a loss of life that was caused by an assault rifle legally purchased in Coral Springs.
This community lost daughters, sons, siblings, husbands, cousins and friends. Feb. 14, 2018, will forever be remembered as the day our collective hearts were shattered by this act of horrific gun violence. But now, it is imperative that the emotions felt on that Wednesday are not forgotten and that the lives lost are not in vain.
When the cameras, media attention, tweets and social media stop, the hurt will remain, and we must continue to be there for the families, students, and faculty who have been affected.
We must be there to support those who face a long road to recovery, both from physical wounds and the invisible trauma from the horror our young people and their families experienced.
Here I am writing, and yet I know that there are absolutely no words that will make these families feel better. No words that will take away their pain.
It is crucial that in addition to our sympathies, speeches and platitudes that we also take real, tangible steps to spare another community from experiencing this tragedy.
People look to their leaders in times of crisis and pain. Now is the time for our leaders to act, and bring about changes that will end to these senseless acts of violence.
We are calling on our leaders to bring us into a future where children and teachers no longer fear entering school grounds, and one where parents do not live in fear that a midday text from their student is a text alerting them to yet another active shooter on campus.
Time and time again, Federal and State Governments have failed to protect our children and teachers when it comes to gun violence and mass shootings.
This is not a partisan issue; it is not a political issue. I am not speaking from a partisan position, I am not speaking as a candidate, I am talking as a heartbroken teacher and resident of Coral Springs.
I am speaking as a football coach, and I am speaking as a friend, neighbor, family member. In the coming days and weeks there will be numerous debates concerning what caused these horrific attacks, and so far there has been one obvious common denominator: The AR-15, a high powered, military-grade assault rifle that has absolutely no reason to be in civilian hands.
Even more surprising to me, is that an AR-15 is easier to acquire than a standard handgun.
For years, the abilities of municipalities across Florida to rid our state of the scourge of gun violence through local measures has been undercut and attacked.
Well, if this isn’t a time to take a stand as the municipality of Coral Springs, I do not know when that time will be.
Our legislature has repeatedly turned a blind eye to mass shooting attacks in this state, and I am done waiting. I call on us to band together and take a stand, now, and am asking other cities to join us.
The most recent perpetrator of another mass shooting purchased his AR-15 in Coral Springs, not more than 10 minutes from where I work and live.
I write this to urge the Coral Springs City Commission to ban the sale of all AR-15 weapons within the city limits.
If they see fit, place a ban on all assault rifles, weapons that have been commandeered as an instrument of mass death.
This is not a matter of the left, right or center. This is about protecting our families, our students, and ensuring that every individual that calls our country home, has the opportunity to live out the American dream.
Let’s stop the posturing, and let’s do something.
This is where I stand — for my community, and for the students that I have the privilege of teaching every single day.
Joshua Simmons is a teacher at Coral Springs High School.