“Time for a change, and I don’t mean my diaper.”

So advised a sign on a baby stroller outside the Ipswich Visitors Center during the March For Our Lives.

For all the seriousness of the cause, there was no lack of humor, and at times the conversation and signs achieved both.

None better than a poster worn by a girl, perhaps 14, that looked more like an ad for a White Mountains campground with a wide-eyed deer looking out a lower corner declaring:

“Hunting Season Is Over.”

Others challenged: “Teachers stand up to guns, but Congress won’t stand up to the NRA.” Or taunted: “Thought you were pro-life.”

Long ago, I thought that my demonstrating days were over. Last sign I carried was a single word following Richard Nixon’s infamous Saturday Night Massacre: “Impeach.”

But I had a nagging urge to join this one conceived by babies born about when I turned 50. Part of it was the inherent guilt that long outlasts Catholicism, a feeling that it’s not enough to just write about the things I can or cannot change.

A larger part of it was no doubt spelled out on the T-shirt of a man my age: “Another Grandfather Against Assault Weapons.”

Speaking at rallies all over the country, many students mentioned how they learned to dodge bullets before they learned to read. 

Doubt that would be much solace to my daughter, who sat numb behind her steering wheel while my 3-year-old grandson described preschool drills that had him crouching in a classroom closet. Apparently, his teachers put it in the least alarming while still point-making terms they could find.

As Lachlan excitedly reported: “The bad guys were coming to fight us!”

Should the National Rifle Association’s ownership of Congress survive this November’s election, he’ll be ready to reinforce the lesson for his younger sister before he, let alone she, can read.

Which is why so much emphasis of the movement born this Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Florida, will continue to be put on congressional elections all across the country this November. For that immediate aim, the word “enough” serves as crosshairs. Many speakers used it as a refrain, many signs as a single word. And what other word so often and so furiously defines itself?

“Enough is enough!”

In Ipswich, one sign had it in a dozen other languages, ranging from the Norwegian “nok” to the Italian “abbastanza.” When I mentioned this to a friend in attendance, he said, “We’ve had it” no matter the language.

Then, he immediately corrected himself: “We’ve been had!”

In November, that realization by elders will compound the impact of youth, many of them a few years older than the girl sporting the sign saying, “We Don’t Have a Vote, but We Do Have a Voice.”

Unless the NRA and their congressional servants find a way to blunt that message, and assuming that the American public will not be lulled by six months of highly unlikely freedom from mass shootings, that spells doom for the complicit leadership of both the U.S. House and Senate.

But the White House is a four-year term, and we’re just over one year into that of a president whose very first official act was to rescind, in service to the NRA, a recent law to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally disturbed.

Can’t recall hearing or seeing his name in Ipswich unless we count the shirt insisting, “Impeach 45.” While I agree with the sentiment, I couldn’t help but point out the mistake: Judging from his high-level appointments, his political endorsements and pronouncements, he is not the 45th president of the United States of America but the second president of the Confederate States of America.

And doesn’t “No. 2” offer a double-entendre befitting everything he chooses to represent?

Sorry for the unseemly analogy but at the root of any and all specific demands made from Ipswich to D.C. and from coast to coast on March 25 is the most basic, all-encompassing question: What kind of a country do we want to be?

For an honest answer, it is high time that America change its NRA-loaded diaper.

Tell Jack Garvey abbastanza at hammlynn@gmail.com while he dusts off that 45-year-old sign.

Recommended for you