EDITORIAL: Kudos to courageous Parkland shooting victims, who may finally end NRA death grip on politicians, America

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America owes a collective cheer to the courageous Douglas High School mass-shooting survivors, and the friends and families of the victims.

The nation has been driven down by years of gun violence that comes in waves and elicits nothing but “thoughts and prayers” from too many in Washington.

Maybe there is finally reason to hope.

Scores of brave Parkland, Fla. high-school shooting survivors deserve America’s gratitude for setting aside their horror to call out President Donald Trump, and scores of lawmakers backed by the NRA, for their malfeasance and complicity in shootings that claim more than 35,000 American lives each year.

These stricken teenagers — and parents of teens whose children were murdered in a tragedy that rates as only the third-worst school shooting in the country — have taken to social media, to TV cameras and to protests against the National Rifle Association and the members of Congress they pay millions to each year to keep the country from enacting meaningful gun control.

In a nation that knows many wrongs and tragedies, the fear, extortion and propaganda perpetuated by the NRA,  by their toadies in Washington and every state capitol in the country inflict a uniquely American crime against humanity.

For longer than many of these children in Florida have been alive, the country has raised its fist each time after these horrific mass shootings and sworn, “enough” and “never again.”

And nothing ever changed. Each time bills surface that would ensure everyone who buys a gun anywhere undergoes a background check, the NRA and its congressional backers have worked swiftly and aggressively to snuff all of these measures. In almost ever congressional and state legislative election in the country, the NRA is there, weighing in with cash for those who swear to fight against any and all forms of gun control. And the NRA is there with cash to squash anyone running for office who promises to take on the gun lobby and opposing lawmakers too weak to resist it.

It’s shocking that in a state like Colorado, which has suffered so tragically from mass-shooting attacks such as Columbine, the Aurora theater shooting, Arapahoe High School and Platte Canyon High School, that there is still a stubborn minority that believes and acts on the NRA propaganda. While the vast majority of citizens overwhelmingly support at least the most obvious, common-sense measures of gun control, a vocal and bullying minority continue to fight against it.

Democrats are just as much to blame as Republicans here. For better than a decade, they’ve cowered from the fight in an effort to preserve their power. Cowardice among both parties have left Americans with only individual champions, such as former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a mass-shooting victim herself.

It only serves to make the senseless shooting deaths of so many Colorado children and adults even more tragic.

Previously, the shock and horror of these shootings has dampened the outrage they warrant, but Parkland seems different. Maybe the cynical standard response by pundits — that there is never enough slain children to prompt Congress to turn back the NRA and act on gun control — is wrong.

Perhaps Americans have finally had enough needless terror and bloodshed to finally demand change. Maybe these eloquent and savvy teens from Parkland can make a difference.

Make no mistake, should the tide finally turn against the NRA and gun-rights hardliners in Congress, the rank and file among Republicans will quickly climb aboard the gun-control bandwagon. They are politicians, and they mean to stay that way.

So this is all up to voters. It’s not enough to just tell pollsters how strongly you feel about gun control, you have to mean it. You have to vote your opinion.

And if you do, there’s no doubt we’ll have enough members of Congress and the Colorado Legislature to finally ban bum-stocks, military grade weapons, assault rifles, virtual personal arsenals and more. With the persistence and insistence of voters, we could finally see meaningful gun registration, education and common sense laws that prevent people who have shown a proclivity to violence or delusion from getting guns and murdering children in schools, families and friends in malls, theaters, clubs or concerts.

These most recent surviving victims of a mass-shooting are telling us they know first hand this absolutely is a gun problem, a lethal one. If nay-saying Republicans want to be serious about ensuring there’s an effective mental health system in the country, as a way of preventing mass shootings, the tens of millions of mentally ill Americans who never shoot anybody will be grateful for their change of heart.

But the nation will no longer go along with absurd NRA propaganda meant to protect the gun industry at the expense of human life. Perhaps because of these brave teenage victims, it will be sooner rather than later the gun lobby loses its death grip on politicians and the country.