At 4:15 am on Friday, March 23, my wife and I drove over and picked up my granddaughter Zoe, 22, and got her to the Des Moines airport for a 6:00 am direct flight to Washington DC to attend the March For Our Lives scheduled for that day. She was accompanied by her friend Madeline, 19. They went in on Friday to talk to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Leadership and to the staff of both Senator’s Grassley and Ernst.
I set up the ATF meeting because they are the regulator, and if Congress is to pass any gun legislation, the ATF will be in charge of implementation. It also seemed logical to get briefed on the possible implications for legislation and it’s impact. Before I retired, I owned an association management company and with that background was able to start an association for former and current ATF agents. I was proud to serve as their executive director until I retired.
In addition to the giant March For Our Lives in D.C., Des Moines had a March as well. Given the weather, it was surprising how many people turned out. In addition to Des Moines, hundreds of other cities across the nation also scheduled rallies and marches. For those of us 60 and older, this period is beginning to feel like the 60’s and the anti-Vietnam marches and protests of the day. The events of the 60’s did change American society and eventually changed the presidency and had a major hand in stopping the war.
I also remember the other side of the Vietnam issue as well. People called the marchers and protesters disloyal and un-American. On the gun issue of today, the gun advocates have already begun to try to make people believe that some of the protesters are not even students, but paid actors. At the end of the day, this will be a brutal political street fight between the far-right conservative gun supporters and thousands of 13 to 25 year olds who have found their voice on this issue. Although the winner of this battle is yet to be determined, at the end of the day I would not vote against my granddaughter Zoe and her friend Madeline and the millions like them.
This battle will not be won with one march or on one day. It will only succeed if it has staying power and creates election consequences. In Iowa, it looks like a two-pronged approach will be necessary, working the Iowa General Assembly and Congress. In both cases that will be tough, but necessary.
Over the years I learned that power rests with elected officials, but their power comes from the electorate and that takes a few election cycles for change to be felt. If the young protesters stay with it, some elected officials will change their minds, some will be defeated and some will stick to their guns and become a minority of folks on the other side. That is how democracy works and how change occurs.
For America, passing reasonable gun laws that reduce gun violence in American society is a defining issue for us in the 21st century.
by Dick Goodson
Photo via Flickr (people shown no relation to author)