Ma­jor elec­toral wins for gun con­trol . . . then an­other mas­sacre

Whanganui Chronicle - - World - Colby Itkowitz

Af­ter 14 teenagers were slain in hall­ways and class­rooms at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Florida, ear­lier this year, the sur­viv­ing stu­dents spurred a groundswell of ac­tivism. Na­tion­wide, Amer­i­cans marched in the streets, declar­ing they were through tol­er­at­ing the mas­sacre of in­no­cent peo­ple in schools, churches, night clubs, movie the­atres and con­certs. And they promised that come Novem­ber they’d be send­ing politi­cians that mes­sage.

Be­tween the Park­land shoot­ing and now, 10 peo­ple were killed in an­other high school in Texas, 11 Jewish peo­ple in a syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh and then 12 peo­ple, likely col­lege stu­dents, in a bar in Cal­i­for­nia. And those are just high-fa­tal­ity mass shoot­ings. It doesn’t in­clude the five jour­nal­ists killed in their news­room in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, or the slay­ings in the mid­dle of a yoga class less than a week ago — which won’t make any

lists be­cause of the five peo­ple shot, only two women died.

This has be­come the tragic norm in the United States.

But some­thing does seem to have shifted. Yes, the Park­land ac­tivists were dis­ap­pointed that pro-gun rights can­di­dates won statewide in their home state, but around the coun­try can­di­dates who ran un­apolo­get­i­cally on a gun con­trol mes­sage scored vic­to­ries.

In­stead of shy­ing away from the

guns is­sue for fear of the pow­er­ful pull of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, Democrats put it front and cen­ter in their cam­paigns. Es­pe­cially in the sub­urbs — where Democrats saw huge gains.

And yes­ter­day, as news of an­other mass shoot­ing set­tled in, Demo­crat Lucy McBath, a gun­con­trol ad­vo­cate who lost her son in a fa­tal shoot­ing in 2012, sealed her vic­tory in a Ge­or­gia House district once held by Newt

Gin­grich. McBath, who was in­spired to run af­ter Park­land, ran on her per­sonal story.

“It is un­for­tu­nately not sur­pris­ing that on the very same day I of­fi­cially be­came a con­gress­woman-elect, other fam­i­lies in this coun­try are re­ceiv­ing the same ex­act call that I did six years ago when I learned my son had been mur­dered,” she said in a state­ment.

With the dra­matic in­crease in mass gun vi­o­lence, pub­lic opin­ion on guns pol­icy has shifted in re­cent years. While Amer­i­cans are about evenly split on ban­ning as­sault weapons, a whop­ping 92 per cent say there should be back­ground checks on all gun sales, ac­cord­ing to Gallup polling.

The Democrats win­ning the House is also a ma­jor boon for gun con­trol ad­vo­cates, who will now push their can­di­dates to take up anti-gun vi­o­lence leg­is­la­tion. While it will go nowhere in a GOP-led Se­nate and with Pres­i­dent Trump in the White House, it will give the is­sue a ma­jor edge in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign if House Democrats push it.

And there’s past prece­dent for bi­par­ti­san ac­tion. Three years ago, af­ter the Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School shoot­ing, where 20 6 and 7-year-olds were mur­dered, sev­eral Repub­li­cans voted in favour of mak­ing some in­cre­men­tal changes to gun laws, like back­ground checks. It was nar­rowly de­feated, but sug­gested there is room for com­pro­mise.

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