As a grandparent and retired educator, I have been listening to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, who are expressing their fears for their lives and determination to be heard on the subject of gun violence.

Those voices were amplified March 24 by students in my community and many others who share these emotions.

As students spoke about their fears that they might not survive to become adults, I was reminded that students in the 1950s and 1960s, including myself, experienced similar emotions.

[Opinion: The kids are going to save us from ourselves]

I grew up during the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were amassing nuclear arsenals and intercontinental missiles, threatening each other with mutual assured destruction. I remember in particular the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when it seemed our lives hung in the balance.

As students spoke about active-shooter drills in their schools, I was reminded of the air raid drills at school that I and others of my generation participated in during the Cold War.

We were told that those air raid drills would improve our chances of survival in a nuclear attack. When the alarm sounded, we filed into school corridors surrounded by walls instead of windows, or sometimes just put our heads under our desks.

Our government responded in many other ways to the Soviet threat. In retrospect, some were beneficial, and others were not. But at least our leaders took action to address the threat. Air raid drills were not our only line of defense.

And we were fortunate. Despite some very close calls, none of us died in our schools or communities from a Soviet nuclear attack.

Today, students face the threat of gun violence in their schools by learning to flee, or to lock or blockade classroom doors and keep out of sight. The goal is saving lives, once a shooter is in a school.

In the 19 years since the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, our political leaders have been unable or unwilling to pass and implement laws to prevent mass shootings.

The NRA and its political allies have blocked legislation to prevent potential shooters from getting guns and rid our civilian society of weapons designed for military use. Gun legislation passed in America has consisted mostly of measures to increase access to guns.

[Opinion: March for Our Lives kids refuse to let adults derail change]

In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the only policy that the NRA and its political allies will agree to support is giving guns and gun training to more adults in schools, beyond the police officers, referred to as “ school resource officers,” who are already present in many schools.

The United States now has far more guns and far more shooting deaths than any other developed country. Whether in or out of school, children and youth are more likely to be killed by gun violence in this country than in any other developed country.

More guns do not make us safer. Since Columbine, children and their teachers continue to die, be injured and be traumatized by gun violence. Meanwhile, a whole generation of school children have grown up with active-shooter drills that treat gun violence as unpreventable, even normal.

So on Saturday, I participated in one of the hundreds of student-led marches across our nation for sensible gun control laws, such as universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and bump stocks.

Change is long overdue. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, expecting a different outcome. In this case, insanity means accepting the policies promoted by the NRA and its political allies since Columbine, thinking that mass shootings are going to end.

One dead child is one too many. It’s time to get behind the common-sense proposals of the March for Our Lives movement. We should follow the lead of these students, and of many other countries, and adopt meaningful policies to prevent gun violence before it can occur.

John Maddaus is recently retired after a career in education. He has two granddaughters, ages 8 and 3. He lives in Orono.

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