Those of you who know me well and have had private conversations with me know I tend to use profanity when I’m passionate about a subject. Fortunately I keep that under control in public and in my writing. On Valentine’s Day I was very angry about the school shooting in Florida and had I immediately written anything my piece would have been filled with multi-syllable dirty words. My passion hasn’t subsided but my language is now under control. I even found a sliver of hope coming out of this situation. Let’s explore.
One of the initial reactions from the NRA beholden Republicans was that now is not the time to discuss gun regulations. To that inane and insincere rhetoric (read: malarkey) I have a reply and a challenge. To borrow a phrase, “If not now when?” My challenge is name a date, time and place certain right now. No excuses; bring own the specifics. In reality this is a dodge and the Republicans will never find an “appropriate” time.
As a bit of time elapsed “Mental health” and “School safety” became the (in one case new) additional and equally insincere buzz phrases echoed in every public statement. To be certain they should be part of the discussion and no single (or even multi-dimensional) solution is a panacea; but we certainly need to commence with gun regulation.
As with most social issues, exactly where to draw the lines is the devil within the details. That can be worked out if we can get people of pure hearts to the compromise table. America has a gun culture and there will never (nor in my opinion should) be totally eliminated. Regulations regarding the type of weapons and ancillary equipment legally available along with access restrictions are not only overwhelmingly supported by the American public but crucial to a solution. Personally I also support some technological safety changes along with mandatory weapons training for all shooters.
Now to the all-important ray of sunshine: Young people who are at or very near voting age are outraged at this particular shooting like none that have preceded it and they are calling out politicians that refuse to take action; if that energy is sustained and harnessed it can produce workers, demonstrators and even candidates. That pressure will change the political dynamic. Currently many Republicans fear the power of the NRA especially in a primary. If they receive a poor NRA grade they will be primaried from the right. Their challenger will be well funded courtesy of the NRA and can win in the low turnout affairs that American primary elections are. (Americans complain, but we have nobody to blame but our collective selves. We don’t vote in sufficient numbers and get the people we allow others to elect.)
A word of caution to the Democrats: do not make this a partisan issue. Young people do not care about, and in many cases despise, Party labels. If it is an issue based appeal it will work. While the NRA may be the bogeyman; the Democratic Party is far from a superhero in the minds of America’s youth.
In general gerrymandering plays a huge part and an NRA funded Republican almost never loses in a favorably gerrymandered district. If the youth (who historically have a terrible turnout rate) get active and vote they can reduce the NRA’s influence in all but a handful of districts. When NRA beholden Republicans start to lose in favorably gerrymandered districts the impact of NRA money will be significantly diminished. Who cares about losing the primary if you can’t win the general?
The skeptics will say that the GOP will end up fielding even zanier candidates because the more reasonable ones will lose in the primary. I have two replies to that. What good are the current elected Republicans if they are so afraid of the NRA that they are incapable of protecting American school children? More importantly, the nutcases won’t win in the general if the young people participate.
Finally perhaps we need to heed the words of young Emma Gonzalez who suggested we ignore President Trump’s tweets. She has a point in that they all talk about how great he is and how everything is someone else’s fault. Mr. President, how about displaying some Harry Truman style, the buck stops here leadership for a change? (I’m proud of myself in that I avoided the appropriate but profane adjectives, including in the last sentence.)
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