Lessons....In Progress and Learned

Mar 13, 2018

The weeks since the horrific school shooting in Florida have been learning experiences for almost everyone. Students, teachers, police officers, parents and extended families of the victims learned the most grisly lesson of all: no matter how safe you think you are, bad things still happen to good people.

Some politicians have learned that, despite their best efforts to the contrary, not everyone is going to automatically accept their simplistic solution for stopping violence: ban guns because guns are bad.

It’s actually surprising that the American public hasn’t been swayed more by this tragedy.  

The story has dominated news cycles for longer than anything in recent memory. In fact, looking at the story, it may actually be the first legitimate news story kept alive via social media. 

And social media’s best efforts notwithstanding, there’s been a general failure to launch the expected swords into plowshares response that some youngsters continue to demand. This response, like the November presidential election, has shocked them with another realization: just because you want something to happen doesn’t guarantee that it will.

To their credit, the outraged students have continued their onslaught, and even talked fellow students into walking out of classes in support (like students have ever needed encouragement to walk out of class. I walked out of class in the 1960s to protest a threatened teacher’s strike). 

Yet despite those walkouts, social media onslaughts and generally letting everyone know they didn’t plan to settle for anything less than the banning of AR-style rifles, high capacity magazines, bump stocks, and anything else they can readily identify after having spent hundreds of hours playing Halo3, Call of Duty or any of the 3,421 other violent video games, much of the rest of the country, while sympathetic, is unmoved. 

And still the center of the country seems underwhelmed with their efforts. It’s both amusing and sad. Rather than address the problems they know many of their friends face (depression, drug abuse, social pressure, bullying, etc., etc., etc), they’ve fallen for the “outlaw the tool” argument.

I “get” their anger, their angst, and their frustration. But it’s unreasonable to expect yelling at people to change their minds, it steels their resolve.

Even if it’s the President doing the yelling. After “calling out” a Senator for being “afraid of the NRA” the president proposed some pretty drastic actions. That was before a private meeting with NRA officials. 

After what was apparently one of those frank and honest discussions of the issues, some of those ideas - including grabbing guns then worrying about the little thing called “due process” and raising the age limit for buying certain types of guns (just the scary ones, of course) moved from being planks of the platform to items “open for discussion.”

OK, that’s a very simplistic theory and explanation of what actually transpired (I wasn’t there, but I occasionally hear things...). But it’s safe to say that losing sight of the fact that the NRA is a membership organization not just a political lobbying group (like most of the anti-gun groups) is a correctable error in all but the most liberally ensconced politicians. Anywhere else, well, it’s just not a smart bet to start off by tossing the gauntlet on five million motivated voters.

And there’s demonstrable evidence that the attempt to raise the age for gun ownership from 18 to 21 isn’t getting support from that age group, it’s driving enrollments in Second Amendment organizations. The NRA, although it doesn’t give particulars, has indicated a marked increase in enrollment by younger Americans. The Second Amendment Foundation has a release in today’s wire that says they’ve had a twelve-hundred percent spike in members and donors since the Florida shooting from 18-20 year olds.

The past few days have been an unpleasant educational process for one gun company. Late last week, Daniel Defense sent out a message asking fellow shooters to “Help Marty Daniel Fix NICS”. 

The response was overwhelming- and negative. Everything from death wishes to “you’re on the way to out of business and good riddance.” 

Yesterday, Marty Daniel issued one of those walk back messages, explaining that he thought he was helping protect the Second Amendment, but discovered he was wrong.

Too-early to tell if that’s enough to mollify the incensed, but enough response to indicate there’s no indication that gun owners are ready to give on anything- reasonable or otherwise.

Yesterday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation issued a statement yesterday supporting President Trump’s School Safety Plan Initiative, calling it a proposal that boosts “school security and respects constitutional rights including the right to due process of young adults to purchase firearms for hunting, sports shooting and their own self-defense.”

The release goes on to remind readers that the industry “welcomes the opportunity to participate in the national conversation that will help us all achieve our shared goal.”

The shared goal? “to see violence in our society reduced and our communities and our children made safer.”

That’s a goal that should be difficult for anyone to oppose.

--Jim Shepherd