To the class of 2022, and to parents and friends, of all colors, shapes and sizes, whether you have a concealed weapons permit or not, I thank you for indulging me on this auspicious occasion.
My point can be summarized in 14 words – It’s up to you, it’s not up to me, listen carefully and act responsibly.
Now I know what they always say at these imaginary graduation speeches. Life is what you make it, it’s in your hands from here on out, go out there and conquer the world. The future is putty in your hands to shape. You can punch it like Play-Doh, flatten it like a tortilla, caulk with it to seal up a draft, it’s your putty.
If you haven’t turned 18 yet, you can smush it like birthday cake when it’s time for your party. On that day, you’ll be old enough to vote, or to take a rifle the military hands you and defend the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Notice the “domestic enemies” part, it bears directly on my point.
Now as an adult, you can have a say who gets put into public office. Not a big say, a teeny-tiny say, but a say nonetheless. As a trade-off for that newly acquired right, you won’t be able to buy cigarettes just yet. Unless you move out of Florida, you’ll have to wait three more years to be able to pop open a freshly bought pack of smokes as you shine up the Daniel Defense rifle you also can purchase legally at age 21, after waiting for however many days it takes. Three long agonizing years you must spend deprived of your constitutionally guaranteed right to purchase that gun you have your heart set on.
Sure you could move to Texas and get one right when you turn 18. But think of the sacrifice you would be making during those three years staying here in the Sunshine State. They will bestow upon you incalculable benefits of patience, perseverance and self-control. It is a sacrifice we Floridians have been willing to make, to forego three of the most prime shooting years, because we believe that an armed society is a polite society, provided you have been taught manners.
Laws differ in other states. Firearm recordkeeping, mental health considerations, domestic violence provisions, animal cruelty statutes, tickets for parking in county rights-of-way, they all vary from place to place. The only thing they have in common is that they are laws, whether federal, state or local, and laws are made by people.
They may be based on liberties authored by God, and they may be rooted in the fiery passions of those who have long since loosed the lightning of their swords, but they are laws- of the people, and made by the people and designed for the people.
People like the people of Franklin County, who accurately can be described as heavily populated by those who the National Rifle Association terms “law-abiding gun owners.”
That’s who I’m talking about, not about me. I wouldn’t know the butt end of an AR-15 rifle from the barrel or the bolt, but there are many of you who would and that’s whom it’s up to here.
Just like those who know baseball best should decide whether to adopt the designated hitter rule, and those who know Corvettes best should decide whether it makes sense to introduce a rear split window, those who know guns best have to figure out what to do with this putty in their hands.
Lethal death-dealing putty, gun metal gray cerakote putty used to snuff out innocent schoolchildren’s lives right when they were getting out of school for summer. Fourth graders, about the age when you learn to sing in unison “My Country Tis of Thee” and to dress up in high-buckled shoes or paper headdresses to celebrate the Pilgrim roots in America 400 years ago.
Those who favor disarmament know what to do with this putty. Don’t play with it. Read a book instead. They quite frequently do not own firearms, and are less explicitly concerned about your right to own one.
But those who know their putty, and know the necessity of firearms serving to deter – not to enable – evildoing, those are who needs to address this.
They are who needs to decide, to weigh the evidence, not the mantras and the overblown rhetoric. To consider the application of laws and statutes here, not the talking points and questionable appeals to “patriotism” as if love of country is commensurate with how many guns you own.
Do you believe Uncle Sam is a jackbooted thug who wants to burst into your home, violate every last law against illegal search and seizure, and confiscate everything from your Magnum to your Derringer, so you’ll be left with rope and box cutters when it becomes time to defend yourself?
Do you believe “common sense gun measures” is code for ripping out of your cold-dead hands the arms-protected by the Second Amendment, and then wrapping all these infringements around your neck and tightening until you are red, white and blue in the face?
It’s not up to me to answer these questions, it’s up to you.
You are, in keeping with your class flower, like sunflowers, able to bend towards the sun. Not like those other unyielding flowers, that know no alternative other than to stand rigidly in place. You have the capacity to move with the sun as it arcs over the firmament.
To shift according to the illumination that shines down upon you, and to move with it.
No one also has the moves you do, and no one else can think for you, not the NRA, not Moms Demand Action, not Joe Biden and not Ted Cruz.
It is up to you, to think for yourself and to decide what makes the most sense and has the least impact on our sacred freedoms and liberties.
The future, our future, is in your hands. Treat it like putty, buddy.
This guest opinion column by David Adlerstein is reflective solely of his thoughts, following the Franklin County High School graduation, andin the wake of the Uvalde shooting. They are not necessarily those of his employer, or any other group or individual.