Maybe an eloquent and emotional plea from survivors of the nation’s most recent mass shooting will turn the political tide by capitalizing on the one thing that could finally bring America reasonable gun control: money.
After a whirlwind national catharsis over the country’s horrific plague of gun violence and mass shootings, a handful of high-school teenagers who survived the Douglas high school massacre in Parkland, Fla. have created a groundswell of public interest in government action.
The interest so far has been in putting the National Rifle Association, its congressional loyalists and even President Donald Trump on the defensive — all good moves.
In the short time since the Feb. 14 mass shooting, the Florida Legislature has at least entertained the idea of gun control. That assembly has previously shut out any hope of it, just like so many other states.
These savvy and articulate teens, however, have captured the nation’s attention with their persistent demands for effective government measures to halt mass shootings at schools and elsewhere.
The movement has prompted a growing list of powerful businesses to publicly shun the NRA as part of a trending #BoycottNRA movement. Some have outright demanded the strident gun-industry lobbyists give up their unyielding mantras, that any effective gun control is bad gun control. Airlines, banks, rental car companies, hotel chains and more are for the first time willing to take on the NRA’s thunderous role in Congress.
This growing movement has quickly exposed solutions offered by gun-rights activists as the lunacy they are; Arming teachers in schools, making it even easier for even more people to carry concealed weapons, encouraging people to openly carry guns anywhere and everywhere, rescinding what few gun controls there are on the books and other dubious proposals are being called out as nonsense.
It doesn’t mean gun control is the only answer. Local Florida police, state social service agencies and FBI officials must explain what appears to be catastrophic failure on their part in the massacre. A number of state officials probably could have prevented this attack after so many people identified the shooter as a potential threat.
Identifying and apprehending potential mass murderers before they strike is imperative, but it is no substitute for gun control.
For the first time in decades, this could be the watershed moment moderate gun-control proponents have long hoped for.
The stunning rift exposes the NRA for what it really is, an intolerant propaganda machine that represents the interests of the massive firearms industry at the expense of endless thousands of gun-violence victims.
Marshalling their passion, their youth and their social media savvy, the surviving students have at least, temporarily, made Americans look critically at the mythology the NRA and others have spun around the Second Amendment.
Legal and historical scholars have long concluded that the amendment is by no means absolute and was never intended to give individual Americans unfettered access to deadly arsenals.
Reasonable Americans have no desire to outlaw all guns or repeal the Second Amendment, but they do understand the wisdom behind mandatory licensing, registration, insurance and the ability prove mental competence. This new and growing #neveragain movement could finally get traction on a ban of military weapons. The ban must be not just on the sale of these military weapons, but an all-out ban like in Australia. Americans, too, would probably see dramatic results like they did in that country. Australia banned assault weapons in 1994, bought them back from citizens and nearly ended mass shooting violence there. What an enormous victory it would be if the United State’s could just cut in half the 350 or so Americans shot to death in mass shootings each year.
Real change will come if state and congressional lawmakers move in the same direction against the NRA as are national corporations and American sentiment. It won’t be easy or fast. When pressed last week about whether he would consider refusing campaign contributions from the NRA should public opinion become a groundswell, Aurora GOP Congressman Mike Coffman dismissed the idea that it might come to that. He said pushing the country against the NRA and those who take campaign money from it is a nothing but a partisan move.
We disagree. Preventing children from being gunned down at school isn’t a partisan matter, and it’s indisputable that the NRA wages all-out war on gun control measures that have provably worked in the United States and elsewhere.
For the first time in decades, Americans are about to drive this issue instead of paid gun-industry lobbyists.