I think that the movement to get control of the issue of so many Americans dying of gun violence has now found its voice, just as the # MeToo movement has for woman’s harassment issues. The catalyst here is the recent shooting at the Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I believe that the key difference in Parkland is that students, adolescent kids, are taking up the cause.
In my view this is the first time that the lobbying efforts of the NRA has even a chance of being equaled and that is what it will take. Yes, money is important, but it is not as important as tons of pressure from committed constituents, especially young people. An example may be useful.
Thirty plus years ago I went into Washington a dozen or so times to convince my elected officials that the Credit Unions needed to be taxed to be put on a level playing field with my Bank and S&L clients. I made a pitch to a well-known senator’s staff and was taken in the back room to see three full mailbags, holding thousands upon thousands of pieces of mail, from Credit Union members opposed to such legislation. I knew immediately my efforts were lost!
If the Millennials and Gen Z generation can be galvanized enough to turn out by the hundreds of thousands or possibly even millions this fight can be won.
All the issues of what to do to stem gun violence currently being discussed are decent ideas and at some point will be drafted in bill form. Some may be tossed out as not practical, personally I believe that is where the concept of arming teachers should go, but nevertheless, debate and discussion will determine what kind of legislative success there will be.
I also doubt any effective legislation will pass until after the 2018 mid-terms. There are just too many sitting politicians who have staked out positions in favor of gun rights to proceed until new people are elected. The saying goes that “elections have consequences” and that is certainly true of this debate. If the battle is to be won, it will be necessary to galvanize students and parents in every congressional district in America.
One thing, only discussed a little but absolutely critical to the ultimate solution, is to appropriately fund the ATF, the key gun regulator. Without adequate funding, whatever is passed will not be enforceable. The NRA in past years has been able to have ATF funding cut dramatically and that has presented a big problem and in many ways has emasculated their regulatory ability. What is finally passed to strengthen gun laws will require regulatory enforcement and that will require substantially more resources for the ATF.
My last piece of advice is to see if any Millennial or Gen Z person you know is considering a trip to D.C. for the march later this month, help them get there.
by Dick Goodson