Will They Run Through the Finish Line, or Pull Up Short?

Standing before vast crowds from Washington to Los Angeles to Parkland, Fla., the speakers — nearly all of them students, some still in elementary school — delivered an anguished and defiant message: They are “done hiding” from gun violence, and will “stop at nothing” to get politicians to finally prevent it. – New York Times, 3/25/18

Many of America’s youth say they’ve had enough. Of the killing. The slaughter. The assault weapons turned against them. So they’ve organized. And marched. And given interviews. And done everything they can think of to turn the tide, away from the lunatic fringe that thinks it has the right to possess whatever instrument of killing they desire, to the innocent ones. The kids who simply want to live and grow up to enjoy a full life. The kids who want to attend school without fearing for their lives.

Some of these kids have been nothing short of remarkable. Their presence and poise belies their years. They are an inspiration to many of us. But it’s not yet clear whether they will be effective. Or whether this too shall pass.

You can be sure the NRA and others aren’t going to lie down and give them what they want. They could care less about their cause, other than to resist it, with everything they’ve got. In their minds, Never Again is merely the latest assault on one’s right to possess whatever gun he or she chooses. Other assaults have been repelled in the past. I’m sure the NRA intends to repel this one, too.

The NRA has the majority of elected officials in its pocket. It understands how the game is played. The role money and votes play. And the power of a committed minority. The NRA has had years to perfect its defenses. No upstart army of kids is likely to roll over this seasoned bunch.

But they could. For the kids, together with their allies, have something money can’t necessarily buy: votes.

Yet it’s a theoretical point only — at least for now. The vast majority of high school kids can’t vote, and young people don’t vote in large numbers. As someone who couldn’t wait to turn 18 so he could vote, I have trouble understanding this — this apathy, passivity, intentional uninvolvement in our public life. But it’s reality. Whether the young people will change that remains to be seen. Until it happens, I’ll remain skeptical.

If they do decide to engage — at the ballot box and for the long term — then all bets are off. The old equation will be tossed out and a new dynamic will be at work among policy makers. What was safe will become unsafe, and what was risky will become prudent. Put simply, the members of Congress and state legislators across the land will fall in line.

But for this to happen, there will have to be follow through. The movement can’t pull up short. That’s pretty much the way life is. Life is full of good intentions. Follow through is not nearly as abundant. Yet without the follow through, it’s merely a flash in the pan. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I suspect the lunatics won’t allow that to happen though. As sure as the sun will come up this morning, there will be another school massacre. More kids will die. More kids, parents and grandparents will have a reason to get and stay involved.

I have to think that, eventually, America will come to its senses and realize certain weapons have no place in our society. But it could take time. And lots of hard work.

We’ll see.


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