“The NRA’s Rights Matter More Than Any Of The Rest Of Ours”

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson sounds off on gun violence and mass shootings in America.

WDET Joan Isabella

The following essay was read on Detroit Today. Written by host Stephen Henderson.

Parkland, Florida.

By some accounts, this is the 18th school shooting this year. Eighteen in 45 days.

Think for a second about that number and what it means

Yesterday I had a different experience than I’d ever had before. For the first time, I learned of a school shooting while I was with my children. I was looking at my two children when I was listening to the chaos that was unfolding, about parents scrambling to find their kids, about people going to the hospitals to try to learn if their children were among the wounded or dead. 

It was a moment when your throat tightens and the back of your neck starts to burn. When you think of what it might be like to be a parent looking for your child at a school where there has been a shooting. When you think of the horror you’d immediately plunge into if you discovered your child was hurt, or dead.

Every time this happens we talk about solutions – gun-related and otherwise – but we don’t do anything.

We debate about whether these acts, which are so frequent in our society, are terrorism. Whether that word applies outside the context of political agendas.

But today I feel like that argument is dissonant. You can’t argue about whether these acts are terrorizing, or whether the violence we witness or experience alters us, changes our lives, in a fundamental way.

We are a different people because of the prevalence of guns and gun violence in this country.

We are a more fearful people, a more anxious people, a more sorrowful people, than any of us deserves to be.

Isn’t that the dictionary definition of terror? 

Every time this happens we talk about solutions – gun-related and otherwise – but we don’t do anything.

We never change. Not a thing.

We never deal with the one thing that makes this country absolutely different from any other; the prevalence and ease of access to weapons of mass destruction. And that goes on for one reason only; because of the incredibly rich and powerful lobby that supports the gun industry – both manufacturers and distributors. The NRA is not about preserving individual gun rights – it’s about protecting commercial gun makers and sellers.

And in our country right now, the NRA’s rights matter more than any of the rest of ours.

Seventeen kids are dead in Florida because of the rights of gun makers and gun sellers. If that doesn’t move you to anger, I guess I don’t know what would.

We want your reaction to what happened in Parkland, Florida, yesterday. At this point, it’s about us, and you, specifically. What are you willing to do? What are you willing to consider to stop gun violence from happening?

Eighteen school shootings in 45 days this year. How long before we get to 30? Or 50?

That’s really up to us.



If you would like to call your representative in Congress to voice your concerns with gun violence, you can find their contact information here:

Senator Gary Peters (D)
(202) 224-6221

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D)
(202) 224-4822

Representative Justin Amash (R)
(202) 225-3831 – Grand Rapids

Representative Jack Bergman (R)
1st District – Watersmeet (Upper Peninsula) 
(202) 225-4735

Representative Mike Bishop (R)
8th District – Rochester
(202) 225-4872

Representative Debbie Dingell (D)
12th District – Dearborn
(202) 225-4071

Representative Bill Huizenga (R)
2nd District – Zeeland
(202) 225-4401

Representative Dan Kildee (D)
5th District – Flint
(202) 225-3611

Representative Brenda Lawrence (D)
14th District – Southfield
(202) 225-5802

Representative Sander Levin (D)
9th District – Royal Oak
(888) 810-3880

Representative Paul Mitchell (R)
10th District – Waterford Twp.
(202) 225-2106

Representative John Moolenaar (R)
4th District – Midland
(202) 225-3561

Representative Dave Trott (R) 
11th District – Birmingham
(202) 225-8171 

Representative Fred Upton (R)
6th District – St. Joseph
(202) 225-3761

Representative Tim Walberg (R)
7th District – Tipton
(202) 225-6276

To see detailed information on school shootings in America in the 21st century, check out this reporting from Philip Bump at Washington Post.

To hear more on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.


  • Stephen Henderson is host of Detroit Today and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is Executive Editor of BridgeDetroit and host of American Black Journal on Detroit Public Television.