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We all know about the Parkland School Shooting. And the Sandy Hook School Shooting. And the many other school shootings. In 2018 before the Parkland tragedy, there had already been 17 other school shootings. Before Parkland on February 15. And 290 between Sandy Hook in 2013 and the Florida shooting.

Protest School Shootings

Congress failed to do anything following Sandy Hook, and with the Republican dominated legislature, little can be expected as a result of the Parkland disaster. The Republican legislature in Florida refused even to discuss the notion of banning automatic weapons, despite the fact that 100 students from the Parkland school were sitting in the audience. That same day, the Florida house declared pornography to be a public health risk.

As a result of the Parkland shooting and the political inaction, students all over America are planning a National Walkout in protest. In Needville, Texas, the superintendent threatened to punish students who participated in the National Walkout, and the students there are pushing back.. Whether teachers will join with the students is still an open question.

This effort to form a national movement is both striking and important. First of all, it is being spearheaded by students, and the history of political movements in America is that student-led movements have led to broader movements.

The protest on March 14, organized by Women's March, will begin at 10:00am, with students, teacher, and administrators leaving school for 17 minutes, to represent the 17 people who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last week.

“On April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, participants will observe 17 minutes of silence before students speak out against legislators' refusal to pass gun control laws that experts say would help to prevent mass shootings. The demonstration was organized by a 15-year-old student from Ridgefield, Connecticut and has gained support across the country.”

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This effort to form a national movement is both striking and important. First of all, it is being spearheaded by students, and the history of political movements in America is that student-led movements have led to broader movements.

Second, it is occurring in combination with the 2018 mid-term elections, and that promises to increase voter participation and undercut Republicans who refuse to join in the cause.

Third, the movement to deal more effectively with guns is one that has seen a surge in favor of regulation.

“Those in favor of stricter gun legislation outnumber those opposed by a measure of more than two-to-one, according to the poll. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they would support more stringent laws, while just 31% said they would not. That’s the highest favorable percentage ever recorded by a Quinnipiac University National Poll, and a considerable increase from the 47% to 50% split measured in late 2015, according to an announcement from the school released Tuesday.”

In other words, the movement for gun regulation may spark a broader movement for other political changes. Those of you who are working in the general progressive movement should bear that in mind as we work towards the November election. Supporting the students on gun regulation may help bring new blood into the progressive movement.

michael hertz

Michael T. Hertz