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