Has the murder and mayhem of school shootings finally reached a political tipping point? I can readily understand if public opinion is a resounding “No!” on the issue, considering how many school shootings have occurred since 12 people died in the Columbine, Colorado high school killings in 1999. And when the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting (where 27 children and adults died) occurred in 2012 and nothing happened, most people who had been advocating for sanity in regards to our gun laws for years simply gave up.
But this time there is a difference. For the first time young people — those who have real skin in the game because they’re the ones sitting exposed in the classrooms — are speaking up loud and clear about the issue. And while they might not be able to get changes in the laws immediately, they could make a real difference.
As one young woman, who was at the high school in Parkland, Florida when the most recent shooting occurred stated on a news program, her generation is the masters of social media, and they are going to be sure they have a loud and clear voice. Indeed, young people who have been somewhat lackadaisical in terms of registering and voting, are now going to be eagerly awaiting their 18th birthday.
Politicians who are in the habit of simply ducking their heads until an issue blows over might be in for a big surprise — this time it might not blow over. And the reason is simple: the issue affects so many young people, and once they get a taste of their own power, they’re going to be out for political blood.
These committed young people are going to quickly assess the situation and begin to formulate strategies that will reduce the incidents of gun violence. Sure, addressing mental health issues will be part of the strategy, but when someone who is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association posits “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” their response will be “Yeah, but they do it with guns.” Indeed, if the disturbed individual that carried out the killings in Florida has used a knife or a club there would have been far fewer fatalities.
Similar to the “Me Too” movement, no changes will occur overnight. But the will to bring about changes in the status quo is building among these young people, and it’s not going to stop. If it takes a change to the Second Amendment, these young people are just the ones to do it. And those politicians who place their fealty to the NRA over the will of the people, sooner rather than later, are going to pay a steep price.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.