Parkland Students May Inspire Something Beyond Gun Control

They May Inspire Young People To Vote

According to the Census Bureau just 39% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2016 Presidential Election. In the last midterm Congressional Election in 2014, just 15% of people between 18-24 voted. That’s only about 1 in 7 people in that age group. In both cases, young people participated in the election less than any other age demographic.

Of course November is a long way off, and with politics moving so fast, the events of the past couple of weeks could be a distant memory by then. At that same time, there are signs powerful, moneyed people believe in the perseverance of this group of students. (And we do too!)

According to Politico, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who’s already spent tens of millions of dollars on what’s seemed to us a Quixotic campaign to get President Trump impeached, is committing $1-million right now in an effort to register high school students to vote in time for this year’s midterms. And if that drive starts going well, he could intensify his support. Steyer says voters that age are “the biggest and least politically represented group in the U.S.”

 

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer

 

While it’s mainly Democrats seizing on opportunities like this, we don’t believe the students themselves are thinking in terms of party loyalty much if at all (which is part of the reason people in this age group haven’t been voting). They’re looking purely at issues, and will vote for candidates who most powerfully reflect their views.

That’s why we’ve repeatedly argued that the “generic ballot” polls we keep seeing, which just measure one party vs. another, are almost completely meaningless this year.

 

 


 

The Conversation In Washington On School Shootings Moves Further And Further Away From Gun Control

It’ll largely be up to the high school students in Parkland, Florida to bring it back, time and time again.

According to the Washington Post, based on applications filed with the National Park Service, they’re expecting 500,000 people to turn up for their March 24th protest in Washington. The students are getting help from outside groups and some major celebrities like George and Amal Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah. Because of course they are, they’d be crazy not to! The permit application was filed on their behalf by the co-Executive Producer of “Dancing With The Stars”.

The Miami Herald says the student group has now raised $3.5-million.

Another great sign the students are expanding minds outside of Washington: the bank that previously issued an N.R.A. affiliated credit card, abruptly said it won’t anymore. The First National Bank of Omaha citing “customer feedback”. While Bloomberg reports major investment companies like BlackRock are actively looking to unwind gun companies from more client portfolios. What would be even more significant is if pension funds: especially those related to school teachers, started pulling out. (Some already have: the University of California fund did so after Sandy Hook). Bloomberg has an interesting chart about which of those funds are still most highly invested in companies that make guns.

 

Money often ultimately speaks louder than words

 


 

Most, But Not All, Of The Measures Proposed Thus Far By President Trump Are Things The N.R.A. Has Already Said It Can Live With. And Would Likely Lead To More Guns, Not Less

President Trump, while still very stream-of-consciousness about the whole thing, delivered his most coherent summary yet of what he’d like to see happen in response to the school shooting. And very little of it has to do with gun control.

Since the President likes to talk about “pillars” of late, we’ve consolidated his “plan” into 5 “pillars”:

  1. Arm some teachers
  2. Beef up background checks
  3. Raise minimum assault rifle purchase age to 21 from 18
  4. Ban bump stocks (which effectively turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns)
  5. Reopen “mental institutions”

Here’s the President explaining some of it, during a meeting with state officials, including Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi (Click on the photo to play):

 

 

The only thing on that list that doesn’t get a stamp of approval from the N.R.A. is raising the purchase age to 21, because of course that would cut into sales (or in N.R.A.-speak “restrict personal freedoms”). But Trump says they’ll come around.

There’s already legislation written and ready to go on that and one more of the items: beefing up background checks. Banning bump stocks could be wrapped in. Some Members of Congress had expressed an intention to get something passed as soon as they return next week (they’re off this week). But that now seems unlikely unless they can do it really fast, because all House votes have been cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday next week during which time Reverend Billy Graham who passed away this week will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

 


 

The Item On That Least That’s Probably Least Likely To Happen, Is The One Trump Talks About The Most

And that’s arming a select, “adept” group of teachers, who’d receive “a little bit of a bonus” for their participation, while no students would have any idea which of their teachers is packing. This appears to firmly at the top of Trump’s mind: the President saying “I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected“. Although we don’t think tellers and bank managers typically pull double-duty as armed guards.

And there are so many hurdles to clear here, it’s not likely it will ever amount to much but an illuminating fantasy of the President’s. First and foremost it would be almost impossible to legislate from a federal level. Congress would never be able to pass it, with 60 votes needed in the Senate. If they did somehow, state Attorneys General would challenge it. Even if they didn’t, as long as it was opt-in (as the President has proposed) and not mandatory, it would still have to work its way down through State Legislatures, School Boards and Teachers’ Unions, not to mention parents’ groups.

The best Trump could probably do is free up some federal money to create some grants for states and municipalities to incentivize them to do it on their own. So it could happen here and there, and maybe Trump’s vision will be taken as an inspiration in some far-flung places.

Then again, there’s also a responsibility and liability issue: who develops the training program for the teachers? Who’s responsible if a teacher accidentally shoots a student, or if a student steals a teachers’ gun? As to Trump’s concept that students will have no idea which teachers have guns: we’ve gone to a big public school. Students know everything. Also how will the guns been secured? They can’t be locked away, because the whole point is for teachers to have quick access to them…

We could keep going down this rabbit hole. Better stop now and just say that also, it plain doesn’t make sense. As Sandy Hook father, Mark Barden, whose wife’s a teacher, pointed out to Trump during his White House meeting earlier this week. Here’s the clip:

 

One new detail about the attack last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas that left 17 people dead: the armed deputy posted at the school never went into the building to confront the shooter while the attack was going on. He’s now been fired.

 


 

The Most Powerful Argument We’ve Seen So Far On Why Assault Rifles Should Be Banned

This article by Florida radiologist, Heather Sher in the Atlantic. She explains in very plain terms why the gunshot wounds from the Parkland assault were so much more devastating than the many other gunshot wounds she sees every day. This is definitely one to share.

And her article reminds us that one of the N.R.A.’s greatest victories was getting a law passed in 1996 that forbids the U.S. Government (more specifically the CDC), from researching and assessing the public health impact of gun violence.

 


 

When We Heard N.R.A. CEO Wayne LaPierre Speaking At An Annual Convention Of Conservatives, We Had Two Reactions:

 

Is that all you got N.R.A.? You stay silent for a week and then come out of the gate flailing, with the same old drivel about how this is all about Liberals and Elites wanting to create a Socialist State and taking away the individual rights of Americans? Really? Individual Rights? I don’t remember seeing too many of your folks rallying for women’s rights, or LGBT rights or the rights of African Americans not to get shot by police…

Then again, this is Wayne LaPierre’s job. As Trump would say, he’s for the N.R.A. That’s what he gets paid–reportedly several million dollars a year–to do. And he does it well. And there are a lot of heartless people in this country who say crazy things. And as skilled as he is in making it sound like he does, he does not represent the American people. He represents the N.R.A. The person who represents the American people–all of us–is Trump.

So where’s the President on that?

 

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