I have spent all of my adult life with one career and one passion: education. I have followed that passion as a teacher, principal, superintendent, parent and grandparent.
To me there has been no greater reward or more important job than helping someone learn. I am proud of what I and all of the talented people with whom I have worked have done.
But today I have to face the brutal truth that despite incredible achievements as a community and country, my generation has failed you.
Seventeen. They were students and staff. The only reason they weren’t here is that they were somewhere else—this time.
The images, the protests, the anguish play like a never-ending loop. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, San Bernardino, the Pulse night club, Las Vegas and now Florida.
And each time, we the adults “promise” to make you safe. And each time we find excuses not to.
So whose problem is this? Our president sends condolences, but never utters the word “gun” in responding to this tragedy and conveniently ignores the fact that he made it easier for people with mental illness to buy weapons. His actions are testimony of his failure to protect you. And 17 more die.
Our Congress decries the violence and demands action only to be silenced by the gun lobby and the need not to act “in the heat of the moment.”
Following Sandy Hook, over 80 percent of the country supported tougher gun regulations, yet the silence from the majority of the Senate and House became their testimony of their failure to protect you. And 17 more die.
And all of us as citizens have the responsibility to vote. We have the responsibility to elect officials who will understand our priorities and act upon them. We then must hold them accountable when they don’t. Our record low voter turnouts are our testimony of our failure to protect you. And 17 more die.
Right about now the NRA and its supporters will be on the defense, reminding us of the importance of the Second Amendment. To the children of our community, I urge you to heed that call. It’s time for you to learn.
Learn about that amendment and our Constitution. It’s a remarkable document. The men who crafted it understood the complexity and challenges of governing.
That’s why our Constitution was designed to change and adapt to the times in which we live. It has done so when it ended slavery, gave women the right to vote and guaranteed civil rights to everyone. We now live in a different time.
It is time for a change again. Our Founding Fathers saw the critical need for citizens to have the ability to protect themselves through a “well regulated militia.” Nothing in the Constitution guarantees the right to own high-powered semi-automatic weapons with bump stocks that can kill more people in a matter of seconds than died in all the opening battles of our Revolutionary War.
It is time for the next revolution. It is up to each of you, the students and future leaders of our community, to lead the revolt. No other civilized country allows access to these types of weapons as does the United States.
We should have the right to protect ourselves. No one should have the right to create mass murder on a monthly basis. No more students have to die.
So to each and every student who reads this, I urge you to learn. While my generation may have failed you, you and your friends have the power to make a difference.
You can do it by making your voices heard. Ask what your parents will do. Ask what your Congress and president will do. Write them. Call them. Be relentless. Use the power of social media to make your voices heard.
Register to vote and then vote. Demand more of those who represent you. You can save the next 17.
Zimring, from Westlake Village, is the retired superintendent of schools for the Las Virgenes Unified School District.