Could a New Generation of Teens Actually Move the Needle on Common Sense Gun Control?

It’s been said (including by me) that if Congress wasn’t going to act after 20 little kids were gunned down in Sandy Hook, it would never will. The rather extraordinary outpouring of outrage by teenagers in Parkland, Florida and elsewhere in the country is causing a reconsideration of that common axiom. Could it be that political activism by a generation of students for whom school shootings are normal can make a difference?

The incredibly articulate students who appeared on the Sunday and nightly news shows gives us all some hope that things could in fact change.

I continue to vacillate between horror and absolute anger in the wake of these massacres committed by troubled people toting semi-automatic assault weapons. There are problems with both the “troubled people” and the “assault weapons.”

First, President Trump talks a good game about addressing mental illness, the part of the problem on which he likes to focus to the detriment of even mentioning “guns.” The fact is, it’s the Trump administration that made it easier for mentally troubled or unstable people who own weapons.

Just about a year ago, Trump signed a measure reversing a regulation designed to keeping guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people. (It’s not clear whether that regulation would have stopped the killers in Las Vegas or Parkland from getting their guns).

The second part is that the majority of Congress—almost exclusively Republican—is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association. It doesn’t matter to Congress than a vast majority of Americans wants tighter restrictions on guns such as enhanced background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

But these teenagers seem unwilling to be denied. They were born after Columbine and indicate they won’t accept the new normal of school shootings.

It could very well be that our future, as far as it pertains to gun violence, lies with our teens. I’m okay with that.