Fierce

As A School Teacher, I’ve Learned That Ensuring The Safety Of My Immigrant Students Starts With Gun Violence

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On February 14, the day of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., my school 50 miles away paused for a moment of silence. It, unfortunately, isn’t the first that we’ve observed. Along with lesson plans, active shooter drills are becoming frequent enough that this generation will mistake them as normal.

When I saw students in our first drill being instructed to stay still, to secure and get away from the door, I was reminded of another exercise I’ve had to practice in my life.

On the inside of the entrance to my home, there is a handwritten note that says, “Do not open this door.” It’s been there since Donald Trump took office last year.

It’s meant to protect us from his deportation agents, and it’s an instruction to my little sister. She’s not allowed to answer the door if there’s a knock or the bell rings because she might not know to check through the window to see if there’s danger on the other side.

There’s no comparing the two experiences. I’m aware because I know people who lost someone in the Parkland shooting and I know people whose close family has been deported. They are not the same, but they are both terrible. And when I arrive in the school where I work, with several students like me, we carry the stress and fear of both into its halls.

I’m aware because I know people who lost someone in the Parkland shooting and I know people whose close family has been deported.

They are not the same, but they are both terrible. And when I arrive in the school where I work, with several students like me, we carry the stress and fear of both into its halls.

When I saw the Parkland students speak out, I got chills. To see their bravery and their determination gave me hope. I’m someone who has been organizing with my mom for immigrant rights for the past six years. I’m someone who has watched Sen. Marco Rubio and other politicians make promises they haven’t kept and offer progress only to turn around and block it. So when Parkland survivor and activist Emma Gonzalez said, “We call BS,” I felt a deep cheer and echo inside of me.

I grew up almost all my life in Miami, but in 2012, when I wanted to go to college, I found my entry into activism, because Florida treated students like me as out-of-state, making it impossible for me to afford.

Friends of mine and I started to organize.

We lobbied politicians and held protests, much like the students currently demonstrating for gun control.

And at the same time, we had to do personal campaigns when one of our parents was taken by ICE agents. We did it all not knowing if we’d be pulled over ourselves or if our family members would return home each day.

And we did it knowing that if we were to get politicians to actually care about us, we were going to have to make them care through organizing.

I want to tell the students fighting for their lives now to keep going. Organizing does work.

They’re already proving it, and I’ve seen it in my own life. In just the five years I’ve been active, we won deferred action that gave Dreamers the ability to study, work and live with less fear. We won in-state tuition that lets someone like me pursue my career to be a kindergarten teacher. And if our efforts were combined, we could achieve so much more.

My little sister may only be 12, but she has already learned a lot from my mom and I dragging her to our meetings over the years and as part of advocating for our family. Like the other students who are mobilizing now, she has worries that no kid should have to carry and she sees the opportunity for change. She’s using the skills she has learned organizing for immigrant rights to now start a walk-out at her school and hopefully send students to Washington, DC, for the March for Our Lives.

If politicians were wise, they’d be stepping away from their NRA donations and be moving to stand with these young people.

They are giving us all a civics lesson. My mom taught me to never make a promise I couldn’t keep, and it’s time the people elected learn it, too. We’re not stopping until we have the safety that every human being and young child deserves. That means taking away the threat of gun violence and addressing all the threats that we face in our lives — not adding to them. They can either vote for us or be prepared to be voted out.

I have faith that the students will make it happen, and I’ve been in it long enough to be ready to help.

Christell Cayaso is a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s We Belong Together Campaign, which mobilizes women in support of common-sense immigration reform that will keep families together and empower women. 

March For Our Lives Just Announced A Bold New Proposal For Gun Control Legislation And It Has Our Future All Over It

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March For Our Lives Just Announced A Bold New Proposal For Gun Control Legislation And It Has Our Future All Over It

We don’t need to see another mass shooting dominate the news cycle to know that America needs gun reform now. But despite a series of mass shootings in the United States in recent years — and two in the past couple of weeks — elected officials and the administration still aren’t in any rush to reform our gun laws and policies in America. 

Instead, students who have survived mass shootings in their lifetime are the ones taking charge and fighting for gun control in our country. 

On Wednesday, August 21, the students who survived a mass shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have unveiled an ambitious gun-control proposal called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America.”

Yesterday after announcing their gun-control proposal, March For Our Lives — a platform and organization focused on voter registration and outreach across the U.S. — tweeted that “gun violence is intersectional. It feeds off of poverty, injustice, and despair. So that means that our plans — to be truly comprehensive — need to be intersectional too.” 

Their gun-control proposal was exclusively obtained by The Washington Post and the publication reports that the plan goes beyond the current discussion surrounding background checks for those who want to buy or own a gun and “red flag” laws, which applies to people who could be a danger to themselves and others if in ownership of a gun. 

According to the Washington Post, Parkland’s gun-proposal plan aims to create a “national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a ‘national director of gun violence protection’ who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.” 

The Parkland students and survivors also unveiled this gun control plan ahead of the 2020 presidential race accordingly. 

They’re looking to shape the presidential race and influence the candidates (including Donald Trump) to consider their proposed gun laws and enforcement.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate running for president in 2020 from El Paso, Texas has been open about gun-control and reform in American even more so after the El Paso and Dayton Ohio mass shootings that occurred earlier this month. Further, he made gun control a focus of his campaign now that he’s back on the campaign trail. 

He has also already spoken out in support of the Peace Plan. In a tweet, he encouraged people to follow the lead of the Parkland students marching for their lives and for the lives of everybody else in order to “end this epidemic.” He concluded his tweet of support by calling on everyone in the presidential race — and the country — to do the same and support their plan. 

Further, the “Peace Plan for a Safer America” will work to dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns — for example, the plan proposes that we raise the age from 21 to 18 for those who want to buy and own guns. It also wants to implement a “multi-step” gun licensing system to be overseen by a federal agency. This gun licensing system would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before an individual of age 21 or older are allowed to make a gun purchase. According to The Washington Post, the license would be renewed annually. 

The plan is being referred to as the “Green New Deal”  of guns, taking a “holistic approach” to gun violence in America. The plan is also proposing community-based solutions to gun violence including mental health services. 

Here’s a breakdown of what “A Peace Plan for a Safer America” entails:

1. Change the standards of gun ownership:

By changing the standards of gun ownership, the Peace Plan aims to advocate and pass legislation to raise the national standard for gun ownership. This is where the national licensing and registry will come into play. It also includes their proposed national gun buy-back program to reduce the millions of firearms that are in circulation by at least 30%. 

2. Halve the rate of gun deaths in 10 years: 

The Peace Plan has set an ambitious goal to reduce gun injuries and deaths by 50% in 10 years. This would amount to saving the lives of up to 200,000 Americans.  

3. Accountability for the gun lobby and industry:

In its third step, the Peace Plan will hold the gun lobby and industry accountable for decades of “illegal behavior” and dangerous policies that have not worked to protect the American people. 

4. Name a director of gun violence prevention:

The Peace Plan proposes the appointment of a National Director of Gun Violence who will report directly to the President. The National Director of Gun Violence would oversee a down payment of $250 million in annual funding for research by the CDC and other federal agencies on gun violence prevention. 

5. Generate community-based solutions:

The plan would also fully fund targeted community-based solutions addressing the intersectional dimensions of gun violence. These interventions would include urban violence reduction programs, suicide prevention programs, domestic violence prevention programs, and other mental health services. 

6. Empower the next generation.

Lastly, the Peace Plan aims to mobilize young registered voters. The plan would automatically register eligible voters and mail voter registration to all Americans when they turn 18. 

In a statement to CBS News, co-founder of March For Our Lives and Parkland shooting survivor, David Hogg told the publication that “for too long we have looked to elected officials to solve America’s gun violence crisis and time and time again, they have fallen to the pressure of NRA donations and the status quo.” 

Enough is enough, he continued, elected officials have failed to do their job and protect the lives of Americans across the country and it has led to deadly consequences. 

“It is clear that the time for thoughts and prayers has come and gone,” Hogg added. “It is now time for real change and real action.” 

A Democratic Illinois State Senator Is Facing Backlash From Both Sides Over A Simulated Trump Assassination At A Fundraiser

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A Democratic Illinois State Senator Is Facing Backlash From Both Sides Over A Simulated Trump Assassination At A Fundraiser

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Politics have become increasingly divisive since the election of President Trump. People are angered by what they see and hear on TV and the anger, some say fueled by the president, is leading to violence targeting minority groups. The latest low point in American politics comes from Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval and shocking photos from a recent fundraiser depicting a simulated assassination.

Photos from Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval is the middle of a firestorm following a recent fundraiser.

Credit: @MarkMaxwellTV / Twitter

The fundraiser, hosted over the weekend, included a moment when someone staged a simulated assassination of President Trump using a fake assault weapon. The fake president was wearing a mariachi outfit and was acting as if he had been shot in the chest.

“The incident that took place is unacceptable,” Sen. Sandoval said, according to WCIA. “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else. I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”

The photos, just weeks after shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, are sparking outrage from both sides of the political spectrum.

Credit: @MarkMaxwellTV / Twitter

“As our nation grapples with the epidemic of gun violence, purposely pointing a fake gun at anyone is insensitive and wrong,” Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “I condemn actions like the ones displayed in the pictures because they lack the civility our politics demands.”

“The apology from Sen. Sandoval for the detestable pictures from his event depicting an assassination of President Trump is too little, too late,” said Illinois Republican Party chairman Tim Schneider, according to the New York Post. “Dangerous imagery like this will be condemned and seen as inappropriate by people of sound mind; however, a mentally unstable individual who wants to harm President Trump might find them as an inspiration. It’s inexcusable for an elected official to allow the promotion of violence in any way. If the individual pictured is a staffer or volunteer, they should be terminated immediately.”

People took to Twitter to share their own disapproval of the senator’s actions.

Credit: @thebwethington / Twitter

The images are stirring controversy because of their distasteful nature. It has caused a storm on Twitter with Trump’s top aide Kellyanne Conway weighing in tweeting that “Every Democrat should be asked if they support or disavow this.”

People are getting tired of the hateful and dangerous rhetoric from the president and don’t want to see other elected officials following his lead.

Credit: @nola3229 / Twitter

Trump’s rhetoric has been tied to an increase in hate crimes against minorities. Most recently, the same rhetoric used by the White House was included in the manifesto by the El Paso shooter. The shooter went to El Paso with the mission to kill as many Mexicans as he could.

Some are calling out the senator but also the hypocrisy with the right-wing and their treatment of President Obama.

Credit: @axiomatic13 / Twitter

The years after President Obama was first elected were filled with Conservative and Republican voters and politicians spewing racist and hateful words. The most racist moment was the birther movement questioning Obama’s citizenship, which was led by Trump.

Some think people on the right have forgotten how the right hanged and burned effigies of President Obama.

Credit: @4everNeverTrump / Twitter

No one is condoning the actions of Sen. Sandoval. However, this behavior is like a page out of the Tea Party and the Republican Party playbook. Obama’s election showed the ugly underbelly of the American political system and it seems to be continuing under President Trump.

A couple of Twitter users are asking for their politicians to do better and be better.

Credit: @whitneydevlin / Twitter

There’s a common saying that says, “Never wrestle with a pig in mud. You’ll both get dirty but the pig will love it.”

READ: After The El Paso Shooting, Julián Castro Releases Ad Tying Trump’s Rhetoric To The Deadly Massacre Targeting Latinos

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