In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. An extension of the act – the 26th Amendment giving 18-year-olds the right to vote – was ratified in 1971.

It is not lost on me that these two landmark decisions came about, in large part, because young people spoke out forcefully during the civil rights era about the injustices they observed: the beatings and killings they experienced primarily in the American South as black and white students worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as with the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee.

Then, the 26th Amendment came about in 1971 because of the hypocrisy of drafting 18-year-olds to fight in Vietnam while at the same time not allowing them to vote for or against the very leaders sending them into battle.

In both instances, young people acted fearlessly and spoke with fire and candor. They are speaking out now unequivocally about ending gun violence by banning assault weapons.

And they mean banning assault weapons. Nothing less. They are not parsing legalisms or concerned about voting blocs. They are saying “Enough!” They are being the real grown-ups while we, the supposed grown-ups, fudge around with all kinds of excuses why this or that can’t be done – because of what? We need more data? We need more endless debate?

Other countries have done it and we can’t manage to? That’s not going to fly. The kids are saying to us: “Grow up!”

Nicole d’Entremont

Peaks Island