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McFeely: Hope for the future, right here in Moorhead

Mike McFeely, Oct. 17, 2015Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The hope, for those who want to see dramatic action taken to slow or stop school shootings, isn't in the politicians. Those in Washington, D.C.—particularly Republicans when it comes to this issue—are mostly worthless, beholden to a gun-promotion organization more than children and parents. Those in state capitals—again, particularly Republicans—would rather turn teachers into Yosemite Sam than figure out a meaningful solution.

The hope isn't even in the businesses like Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods, which decided to wade into the gun controversy. Dick's will no longer sell assault-style weapons nor sell guns to people under 21 years of age. Walmart will not sell any gun to anyone under 21.

Kudos to them for taking more meaningful action in a day than Congress has taken in nearly 25 years, but these announcements come off more like business decisions than policy decisions. Dick's, for example, didn't say it wanted to reduce shooting deaths; it said it didn't want to be part of the story of a massacre.

No, the hope really lies with the young people. That's where frustrated old men like me can look and see a glimmer that the future might hold more than thoughts and prayers when it comes to keeping school children safe.

It started in Parkland, Fla., where students at Stoneman Douglas High School, who saw 17 of their classmates and teachers gunned down, began to speak up and be seen. They were attacked for it, ridiculed and called actors or puppets. The viciousness of what they've endured has been heartbreaking, with conspiracy theorists and conservative commentators (which aren't necessarily mutually exclusive) personally attacking kids. It's beyond shameful.

Nevertheless, they persist.

That's why what is happening at Moorhead High School is uplifting. This is where hope lies locally.

Some students are planning a walkout March 14 to coincide with a national walkout to raise awareness about student safety. The hope—there's that word again—is to encourage political action in the wake of the Florida shooting.

Here's the coolest part: Moorhead High principal Dave Lawrence sent an email to parents saying he supports the students planning the event.

"The students have been positive and have made sure there is an educational component to the event if students choose to miss class," Lawrence wrote, adding that attending the walkout is optional and teachers will continue to teach students who choose not to attend.

The district, Lawrence wrote, will be wearing orange March 14 to show support for school safety. Orange, of course, is one of Moorhead's school colors.

It's a fine line the principal is walking, supporting his politically-aware students while not wading into the gun debate. Lawrence handled it nicely, unlike the blundering superintendent in Bemidji, Minn., who smothered an attempt in his schools to stage a walkout.

What's happening in Moorhead gives hope, even if it's just a smidgen in a small city in the middle of nowhere. Young people taking action with an adult leader giving them support. It's a good day to be a Spud.

Readers can reach Forum columnist Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5379

Mike McFeely
Mike McFeely is a WDAY (970 AM) radio host and a columnist for The Forum. You can respond to Mike's columns by listening to AM-970 from 8:30-11 a.m. weekdays.
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