A makeshift memorial is seen outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, in Parkland, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

This is a troubling time.

A time when it becomes easy to question the precise meaning of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, our citizens and our leaders.

For example, on Tuesday, hundreds of teenagers, including busloads of survivors from the Parkland, Fla., shooting, protested outside the Florida Capitol as their state representatives refused to discuss gun control.

They voted to not have a discussion. That's embarrassing, and worse than that, it's a dereliction of duty for a civil servant.

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Jay Greeson

(Side note: Not to be outdone by the level of difference-making, the Hamilton County Commission passed a resolution on Wednesday that, for the most part, says bigotry is bad. If the 1980s gun control movement was the James Brady Bill, can we call Wednesday's Hamilton County resolution the Archie Bunker resolution? Glad they got to the bottom of that.)

Anyway, one of the worst byproducts of the screaming matches between polarized sides of any issue is the marginalization of the middle.

Because in an argument that stands with dead kids on one side and the undeterred belief in the 2nd Amendment, which side has more, well, for a lack of a better word, ammunition?

This is about more than the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment; this is about people loving their guns.

Because if this were about the Constitution, right after we move along from the gun control discussion, we'll have to do away with Medicare, Medicaid, tax breaks, farm subsidies, closing the DEA, ending the national Department of Education and Social Security.

We deviate from the original guidance of the Constitution on a daily basis — just look at the size and role of the federal government in all walks of life.

And a lot of folks with the "from my cold dead fingers ..." bumper stickers benefit from those deviations.

So stop.

What we have now is a complex issue that requires thought more than emotion. It requires reaction more than rhetoric.

Certainly, there were several mistakes made by too many people with badges — be they state, local or FBI officials — that potentially could have stopped the Parkland shooter.

We could make the requirements much more difficult to get semi-automatic weapons. Have you seen the hoops the citizens of Japan have to jump through to get a gun? Well, did you also know that in a country of more than 125 million people, Japan rarely has more than 10 gun-related deaths in a year? We have more than that in Chattanooga about every six months.

We could look at cutting the size of the magazine clips from 30 to 10. Sure that will make Johnny Big Game Hunter with an AR-15 who likes to shred the Budweiser cans he's drained have to adjust, but God forbid he be inconvenienced.

Any extra time it takes for mass shooters to stop and reload allows time for another life potentially to find safety.

One thing that seems ridiculous is the ludicrous idea of arming teachers. Really? That's the plan? OK, first, if you are of the "If you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns" T-shirt brigade, well, please explain how more guns equals more safety.

Heck, we can even discuss doing away with all semi- automatic killing machines like the AR-15, and this comes from a conservative gun owner who is fully aware of the potential dangers of that slippery slope.

It's going to be a contentious discussion, for sure, but one that must be had.

And truly the only 100 percent wrong answer is the Florida state leaders voting to not have the discussion.

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343.