About That March

The San Francisco “March For Our Lives.” Photo by Gregory Varnum, used via Creative Commons license. Click on photo for original.

A few thoughts on the March For Our Lives, in no particular order:

1. I personally didn’t expect it to be as large as it turned out to be, with 800,000 protesters in Washington DC and hundreds of thousand more (at least) across the country. There were even several hundred marchers in Dayton, the largest city near me:

I had honestly thought the school walkout earlier this month was going to be the crescendo of the protests. Clearly, this shows what I know. If there were indeed 800k marchers in DC, it’s one of the largest one-day protests in history, and that’s not chicken feed.

2. And it’s also clearly terrifying the NRA and its selected quislings, who have been reduced in the last couple of days to mocking the teenagers at the center of the protests, because nothing makes grown adults look more in control than making fun of children half to a third their age, whom have lost friends and schoolmates due to gun violence. What makes them angrier is that the kids are having none of it; I suppose when you’ve seen your friends murdered, being mocked by an NRAtv apparatchik or a Twitter “personality” is not nearly as devastating as those latter folks would hope it is.

The NRA was clearly hoping to do what it’s always done, which is to ride out the immediate outrage until it was over, with the tried-and-true one-two punch of “thoughts and prayers” and “it’s too soon.” But again, the kids weren’t having it, and unfortunately for the NRA, a bunch of well-spoken, laser-focused teenagers with a legitimate grievance regarding gun violence plays better than a bunch of screaming, angry guntoters who want to sell the idea the way to solve the problem of people shooting up schools with assault rifles is to force teachers to arm themselves.

3. Does this mean that we’re finally at the bend in the curve where gun manufacturers and/or fetishists don’t in fact hold the legislative process in thrall? Nope! The NRA still has a huge amount on money and GOP primary voters are still reactionary and it’s still several months until November and even further to January. We will see whether people, particularly young people, decide that it’s easier to march than vote, and whether the young marchers and protesters end up being representative of the young vote (this is where I trot out the curious statistic that in the first presidential election after 18 year olds were given the vote, the kids, the hippie generation, voted for Nixon. 2018 is not 1972 in all sorts of ways, but the question is who actually gets out to the ballot box in November).

The march was a sign and perhaps a portent of November, but signs and portents can be wrong. In practical terms, what matters is the vote. The NRA is reduced to spitting on teenagers at the moment, but it’s patient and it has a long-term plan and it knows March (and marches) ain’t November. So, the moral here is: Kids, make sure you’re registered to vote and then vote.

4. With that said, another leavening perspective, which is that the teens aren’t going anywhere, and they’re not getting more conservative with age. Trump didn’t win the popular vote and the GOP can’t win in Congress without gerrymandering, and the last two years has energized entire swathes of the voting public never to vote for the GOP again, at least on the national level. I mean, it’s worked that way for me — I wasn’t a regular GOP voter ever, but I’ve voted for a few here and there. Now there’s literally no chance I’ll vote for another GOP candidate for state or national office because there’s nothing in the party’s current political ethos that isn’t nihilism and bigotry. And I’m a 48 year-old straight white dude with money, i.e., the GOP’s natural constituency. The kids and the women and the minorities and the queer (and many of the people who love any or all of the above) are even further into the “oh hell no” column than I am, when it comes to the GOP and what passes for conservatism these days.

It doesn’t mean that the 2018 vote is lost for the GOP (or the NRA, which has most of the GOP in its pocket, among other interest groups). As I noted above, there’s a difference between marching and voting. And as an example I don’t ever see where I live nudging into the Democratic column, either now or for the foreseeable future. But in the long run, these kids aren’t ever going to forget who only offered “thoughts and prayers” when they were getting murdered as teenagers, and who mocked them for protesting because their friends and schoolmates were murdered. These things tend to stick with you. And that’s only one legitimate grievance they have.

Mind you, this is why the GOP’s revanchists are making hay while the sun shines; they know it’s not going to last. Just one more Supreme Court justice! they cry. For my part, I’m looking forward to this iteration of the GOP and “conservatism” getting the punt. Yesterday’s march may or may not be a harbinger of the 2018 elections, but it is a reminder that time will not stand still, and that one may still hope for better days ahead. The kids who marched deserve that. As do the rest of us.

99 Comments on “About That March”

  1. Notes:

    1. Remember to be polite to each other. Thanks.

    2. Before someone notes it, yes, I’m aware that firearm violence generally is low and that’s also historically low (for the US). It’s also, of course, super-high compared to elsewhere in the world. And in particular no one shoots up schools like we do here in the US. There’s lots of ways of looking at the statistics and the real-world practical effects of gun violence. Let’s not actually make this comment thread about slinging stats at each other, please.

    3. Also a reminder that I personally don’t have a problem with people owning firearms; lots of people do where I live and it’s never been an issue for me. With that said, I think the argument that “The 2nd Amendment means I get to have an assault rifle just because” is tendentious. Basically, if you’re going to try to model my thoughts on gun ownership, if you’re assuming they’re hard on either side you’re likely to be wrong. Keep that in mind as you chat.

    4. As a final note: If you’ve come here to mock the teens at the center of the march, you should probably keep moving.

  2. When we did our walk out here where I teach (a small liberal arts college), one of my students asked me what they could do. I essentially told them what you said above: register to vote and then VOTE. I pointed out to them that all the politicos really care about is getting voted in, and if they see which way the wind is blowing, they will turn on a dime to get those votes. I am curious to see if this movement can translate into voting (and I have all my fingers crossed and my toes, too).

  3. Very well said. Here we see a million high school kids who probably wouldn’t have voted when they turned 18. Of those who would vote, most would do so with little thought to who exactly they were voting for. Most would vote for whomever their parents liked.

    Now that will change. These are young people who have made themselves part of the political process. These are young people who will be going to the polls with the aim of voting out the GOP.

    I, for one, couldn’t be more pleased. :)

  4. I’m so proud of all the kids who marched today. The sentiment for the past couple of years against gun violence feels like a kettle about to go off. Only time will tell how the votes turn out but young people these days are increasingly calling out BS when they see it.

  5. “. . . the curious statistic that in the first presidential election after 18 year olds were given the vote, the kids, the hippie generation, voted for Nixon.”

    It’s only curious if you weren’t a hippie back then. I know that retrospectives in film and TV — mostly written, I suspect, by people who were still in diapers in the late sixties — give the impression that everybody was into peace and love and all that back then. But the reality was that short-cropped “straight people” far outnumbered us long-haired “freaks.”

    Also, Nixon campaigned as the guy who could stop the war, and the war was what everybody was marching against. His “secret plan” was a con job, of course, but an awful lot of Americans were suckered into believing it.

    A lot like the way an awful lot of today’s Americans fell for Trump’s BS.

    True fact: those who marched did stop the war. Better, they ended the draft that sent poor kids off to die while the comfortable got their deferments and stayed home. The kids who are marching now can make their schools safe again, if the keep their eyes on the prize. And maybe we’ll get a rebirth of American democracy, which would be a good thing.

  6. Good column, btw. After all the shhotings I thought, “What is going on with these families shooting up each other?” And school shootings are mad, “sickening.” It is long overdue for standing-up to gun violence in the U.S. My children are out of school but if I did have school-age children, I would be worried for their safety. Please, parents, go fight for, “New Gun Laws!” I am so proud of this young generation for pushing for change, they are not idly standing by like so many “do.”

  7. The 2nd amendment was put in place so that a militia could be formed to defend the USA from the British invading via Canada and taking back your country. Well guess what, we’re not going to do that, so the 2nd amendmemt is obsolete.
    There is no excuse to own a firearm of any sort that shoots a calibre of military ammunition. Ban 5.56 and 7.62 nato ammunition sizes. It means you can still have your shotguns and a range of rfile calibres for everything from squirrel to buffalo gun, just you won’t need more than 5 rounds. No one is fooled by the argument that you ‘need’ an assault rifle. Besides, if you want to defend your home a shotgun is a much better bet in enclosed spaces.

  8. What this means is that GOP will redouble its efforts to suppress voters, especially students.

    It’s not enough to vote. You also have to make sure GOP’s industrial strength cheating programs, ones that they’ve honed for many years now, are not going to be effective. That requires coordinated effort across multiple states with people in charge who know exactly what to do about it, and how to anticipate GOP’s counter moves. The modus operandi is to pass voter suppression laws so close to the actual vote that they can’t be overturned before the vote is done. It’s very hard to fight that to begin with, and gerrymandering, packing courthouses, city councils, state senates etc. with GOP party loyalists is how they keep on doing it year after year.

    This is not going to be over in just one election cycle. It’ll take a long time until the GOP cancer is removed.

  9. ” I wasn’t a regular GOP voter ever, but I’ve voted for a few here and there. Now there’s literally no chance I’ll vote for another GOP candidate for state or national office because there’s nothing in the party’s current political ethos that isn’t nihilism and bigotry.”
    I feel the same. I’ve voted for a few GOP candidates in the past (John Kasich in the last Pres. Primary) but don’t see it in the future. My current Congressman is Bob Latta (OH) who has taken about $20,000 from the NRA. I will support whoever the Dems nominate to run against him both with my vote and a campaign contribution.
    I would have thought that when that nutcase shot at the GOP Congressmen at softball practice that they would realize the there was a gun problem, but even that didn’t seem to penetrate their brains. I guess the only thing that will is when they start getting tossed out of Congress by the voters.
    Let’s hope it happens soon. I’m getting tired of being considered and expendable target.

  10. I wound up listening to the DC program most of the afternoon, and on heartening thing was that the speakers emphasized voting, and part of the proceedings was people ranging the crowds registering people (when appropriate).

    I will be very surprised if their fervor abates over the summer.

  11. Thanks for the hopefulness. As a teacher of 5th graders, I am infuriated at how callously our politicians have ignored children getting murdered to side with the NRA. We cannot run them out of office soon enough. I vote. I always vote. And I will never vote for politicians who ignore the killing of children and chose to do nothing about it.

  12. I have a 13 year old who was in second grade at the time of Sandy Hook. We went to the march in my city where 20K turned up. The second amendment has only been a SCOTUS upheld individual right since District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 (Antonin Scalia ,John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito). We need to fix it. Anyway, these kids need to vote and become single issue voters for a cycle or two and vote against any NRA A ratings in the their districts. Not hard because the A+ rating usually goes with a lot of other anti democratic baggage. They are certainly something to be proud of. Democracy in action.

  13. I marched in Tallahassee, FL, and was a bit disappointed in the turnout of an estimated 2500, but students were registering to vote and the mood was serious. Power to these young people.

  14. In my middle sized town, we had about 3,000 people show up! I am an old lefty, so I have been to many a march. Here are some impressions. This was one of the best organized rallies and marches I have ever been to. Everything happened on time and smoothly. This was all organized and ran by local high school students. They thought of everything, from accessibility, to cleanup! There were many conservatives and military personnel walking with old radicals. There was just about every student within the whole town. I have never seen so many teenagers so fired up! They were both joyful at being together, and angry at the powers that be. And yes they all registered to vote, and promised not to forget to vote in any and all elections. Not since the anti-war protests in the early 70’s have I been this moved, or hopeful.

  15. We marched here in Los Angeles, and besides seeing a lot of people we were surprised by the number of groups trying to get everyone registered to vote. Not just kids either, but everyone. We got buttonholed (buttonheld?) at least four times, and passed another four or five booths staffed with people registering others.

    If I was a betting man I’d say the Republicans are about to get a shellacking. Mind you, I live in a very blue state, so others are going to have a different experience, but if the Democrats were as active everywhere else as they were here, then a blue wave is indeed coming.

  16. A lot of the marches have had voter registration at the starting points. And the kids are pointing out that many of them are nearing voting age. I think this cohort is very clear that voting is key.

    I’m very proud of the kids for actively broadening the debate to keep it from just focusing on school shooting, and include gun violence in the community, especially in inner cities. They are thoughtful and articulate, and understand the need for inclusiveness. I also love that they stayed away from having politicians and celebrities as speakers.

    As someone who grew up in the 60s, I’m thrilled to see kids taking to the streets again – and even more thrilled to see them now getting support from parents, teachers. and the wider community.

  17. I had lost hope after Sandy Hook. I thought to myself if the slaughter of six yr olds does not move the needle on this issue what ever will? Seeing these kids gives me hope back. I am so proud of them and so ashamed of the adults who try to denigrate them. Hopefully we are witnessing the beginning of a turning of the tide on this issue and can have some sanity on it.

  18. Look for the NRA to start their own youth movement, with kids shouting “Try to take away our guns, we will vote you out!”

    In their dreams, if nowhere else.

  19. The NRA’s usual tactic when dealing with angry survivors tearfully calling for gun control is to be condescendingly magnanimous, along the lines of “Let’s be kind to them, they’re understandably unhinged right now, but just because something bad happened to them doesn’t mean we should let clearly irrational people make policy decisions.” and then just ignore them until things blow over.

    But that isn’t working this time because the kids are very clearly not being irrational — so clearly so that their next angle of attack was “Those have to be paid actors, because nobody who’s gone through what those kids ALLEGEDLY did can possibly have it that much together”.

    They have absolutely no counterargument left, so they’re attacking the messengers in any way they can — because discrediting the messengers is all they can bring to bear. And it’s backfiring spectacularly.

  20. All good points . . . two things though.

    First, the NRA point (and no, I’m not a member):

    Second, I’m still not hearing things that might make a difference. I applaud the civic involvement, but so far (as you say) it’s just demonstrations with the hope they translate into votes (so, you know, a power-play without a set plan).

    It’s not just that people are focusing on the guns (ban, ban, ban) but that even on the gun front, I’d be a lot more optimistic if we were talking registration as opposed to banning, and training, and insurance requirements, and harsher penalties for gun crimes (stop plea bargaining gun crimes to lesser offenses, a problem in Chicago, for instance), and more effective background checks, and probably things we don’t even know yet because we’re not having this supposed “conversation”. Side notes: funny how “conversation” has turned into something one only does with people they agree with.

    Want to still ban? Sure, go ahead, but at least say it’s only a feel-good thing until we actually do something useful. You’re still going to piss off gun owners, but at least you won’t be using misguided hope for political advantage.

    Truthfully, you have to engage people like me and demonstrations won’t help because I’m already moved by the tragedy and already think we “should do something”. I’m just skeptical one-sided conversations will come up with something I can support.

  21. ” I wasn’t a regular GOP voter ever, but I’ve voted for a few here and there. Now there’s literally no chance I’ll vote for another GOP candidate for state or national office because there’s nothing in the party’s current political ethos that isn’t nihilism and bigotry.”

    I feel much the same. I used to mock people who voted straight ticket because invariably you would end up voting against your own best interests. That changed with the 2016 election. The GOP stands for nothing I support and even if I found a responsible Republican I could vote for I would only be empowering a party that regularly stands against what’s important to me (and much of the country).

  22. disperser@2:53pm: I have heard most of the issues you raised being mentioned, and even debated–maybe we’re listening to different people? In any case, I agree that we need to keep the focus on exactly what needs to be done, which includes (but, as you point out, is not limited to) selective and careful banning of certain weapons and/or weapon-accessories; however, I find it hard to say that the “ban all guns!” side is the problem, or even a major part of the problem, when the “more guns!” side is offering the truly idiotic notion that arming teachers as the answer . . . or even part of the answer, in my opinion.

    The extremist sides of the argument may be trying to limit the conversation; I’d say that the “more guns!” extremist side appears to be the one running scared, on some level because its usual diversionary tactics aren’t working.

  23. I am very gratified to see this level of engagement, but I’m worried that successful efforts for meaningful gun control will be almost literally a punch in the dick to the same white guys who turned out for Trump. There are more of us than there are of them, but they can still turn their feelings of victimization into a lot of damage for everyone else while they’re on the way down.

  24. I took a bit of a detour into Conservative Facebook yesterday, and one thing that fascinates me is how desperate they are to paint David Hogg as a Bad Kid. One was a video where he’s talking to two other people and, frankly, he says “fuck” a lot, and it’s edited down so it’s pretty much a barrage of him saying “fuck”, and then they’re all, “See what an awful, disrespectful person he is! How dare he!”

    So that’s their current tactic. We’ll see how it plays.

  25. It’s disheartening to hear the GOP say “Oh, those poor kids. Their grief is being politicized. “. Um, last I heard, turning thoughts into actions was at the core of the democratic process.

    I think that “thought” is the core issue. Rather than be open to actual debate, the pundits prefer the shouting matches and muttered retorts featured on the news. So nothing ever really changes unless change is forced upon them. I would love to hear a politician of any party invite his or her colleagues to brainstorm an issue rather than spew carefully crafted sound chunks.

  26. I’m surprised that there’s not more backlash from the NRA accepting millions of dollars from a Kremlin associated Russian, and his lobbying via the NRA.

  27. @disperser: The NRA doesn’t have to spend a lot of money lobbying to get the Republicans in Congress to do its bidding. It has tens of thousands of members who will start calling/write-in campaigns any time a Republican stops supporting the “no limits” interpretation of the Second Amendment, as well as a willingness to endorse a pro-gun rights opponent in the primary. They can easily get a hundred or more NRA members to fill a Congress member’s phone line for a couple days, and that’s something each Republican will notice.

  28. Kids these days! — More power to ’em. — There are times I look back at my younger self and think how very naive and sheltered I was, and how I missed things because of it. That’s true. That’s both good and bed, depending on what it was. — But I can also look back and see that, even as a school kid, junior high, high school, college age, hey, in some ways, I think I was better about things than I became after life gnawed off a few notches and whittled things down a bit, or a lot. I miss that optimistic, idealistic boy I used to be. Oh, I’ve still got my naive, dreamer side, even now; he’s just behind a very thick wall of life experience saying you’ve got to protect that vulnerable self, because much in life will chew you up and spit you out otherwise. — So…keep the good, toss the bad, keep trying.

    Gun violence. Bullying. Homophobia. Racial and religious prejudice. — What’s wrong with us all? As Americans and as people in other countries. (There have been things elsewhere too.) — I do not get, and I do not want to get, why someone gets so filled with hate or anger that they would think the answer is to kill a large number of people. Particularly kids. Kids themselves can and do overreact. I was extra sensitive as a kid. But my reaction was never to wish my schoolmates dead or think of actively killing them, even the bullies. I mean, yeah, I wished I could fight back and win. Sure, I probably wanted some revenge. But there is a big gap between that and both wanting to kill a bunch of people or actually planning it and carrying it out. (I always tried to bottle up and squash my negative feelings, because how I grew up, a man, like my dad, was not supposed to show negative feelings. Anger, fear, sadness, any of it. I tried to hide those feelings as I grew up, so the bullies wouldn’t know I was so sensitive, and so I could be a man. I did not make the mistake of not loving or not letting my feelings out in private. My parents, both my mom and my dad, loved me, and even my stoic dad wanted me to be able to show my feelings better than he grew up.) But trying to bottle all that up, hide it, only let it out in private when you get home from school, leads to the same sort of thing when you’re grown and it’s work or personal life. And that’s not too healthy, when it means your gut-level reaction is to withdraw into your shell and avoid contact with people you love, so you don’t “bother them” with your (bad!) feelings. So you get too withdrawn and hermit-like and friends quit calling or coming by and…this became bad and led to a big lack of support now, rebuilding my life.

    So I guess that’s my way of saying, I don’t understand the outward-directed violent reaction, but I don’t think my inward, self-directed trying to disengage from life is good either. Not if it harms your relationships or yourself, emotionally or physically.

    But — guns. I am fine with people owning guns to hunt for food or to defend themselves and their neighbors, their community, loved ones, strangers if need be. That’s the purpose behind the 2nd Amendment: reasonable and responsible use, defense of one’s country and community and neighbors and family. That’s good. I’m fine with that. If you need to hunt for food, then fine, get a hunting and fishing license and go for it. Also fine.

    There must be better ways to curb the problem to begin with, before a youth or an adult ever gets into a position to plan and act on it for a mass shooting (or other acts0. There must be controls we can put in to prevent people from getting weapons 9etc.0 to Carry out acts like that.

    Students caring and protesting and voting are a very welcome thing. Keep going. Make the politicians listen and do what’s right. Make the people who support those kinds of violent behavior stop enabling it. This has got to change.

    One kid’s funeral is too much. A whole group of them is way, way too much. It is a waste of all the potential for good, all the love and friendliness that each of those kids were only starting to be.

    One of my high school classmates died from suicide over shame because he got in trouble, publicly, for something he did privately on school grounds. (He should not have done it at school where it was public.) But that was not a reason for everyone in his family, his church, and many at school to know had happened, and it was not a good reason for one high school boy to be so ashamed that he took his life. it was misbehavior, it was wrong to do in a public setting, but it was not worth him becoming so ashamed that he thought dying was the only answer. — The world will never know the average, good kid he was, due to one mistake and public shaming for it. He was not a bad guy. He was ordinary. And if he’d been just an ordinary guy at work or an ordinary dad or friend, or if he’d done some great things, it would have been worth it. Instead, none of us get to knoow what good and great and everyday things or extraordinary things he might have done, if one he could’ve graduated with the rest of us and lived his life.

    If you multiply that one loss by five or ten or more, all students and teachers at one school, one workplace? It is not right to take away that much good from a world that has too much bad and too much hate already, and needs all the good and all the love it can get.

    So kids, you go right on and protest and you please, please vote and be active in leading where you are. Even it if’s some half-baked wandering comments like mine here. — Because we need you guys to speak up, stand up, and refuse to be still and silent, when adults, who ought to know better and act right, will not do what is right.

    Some of us still remember and still want to stand with you and speak up and vote. Heck yeah, protest. Let them know we’re still citizens and we still have a say in what happens in our country. Ir is the only way to make them accountable, by voting them out or making them do what’s right when they’re in office. And shame on them for not caring about what they ought to know is right in the first place. That goes beyond any stupid party politics. It goes into what’s being human toward others.

    I have a feeling I’d rather have some of those naive kids running things in a few years than the current crop of blowhards who care only for the money and the notoriety and the power. The kids care. That counts more. Sometimes, even more than experience. but yeah, let ’em get a little experience and really show they mean it. Keep the faith, kids. You rock mightily.

  29. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but after the 2016 elections I recall seeing a graphic that showed how the election would have panned out if they only counted the votes of those under 24. Trump and the GOP would only have won Wyoming. If the GOP is not absolutely petrified about this they should, their base is disappearing and no amount of gerrymandering will fix it. My guess is they don’t get serious about changing their positions until they get kicked out en mass.

    I also hope that people just coming of age to vote and those that recently have do more than just vote. Change will only happen by booting large swaths of the GOP out from the national to state level.

  30. I am in awe of these kids. That vile NRA spokeswoman sneered at people who want gun reform, saying “We’re coming for you.” Too late, vile woman. Someone already came for these kids, and they say, “Never again.”

  31. Three cheers for David Hogg, he is really leading the movement. But of course, this could only be done by a white straight male, it’s 2018.

  32. Questioning your comment about the hippie generation vote in 1972 I looked it up, and although Gallup says 52% of voters 30 and under voted for Nixon in 1972, I’d be curious to see the percentage for voters 21 and under during that election. Whatever the case, I did not turn 18 until June 1974, so my first presidential vote was for Carter in 1976. I have voted in every local, state and federal election my entire adult life – even during my time living overseas – and in all those I have voted for a total of one Republican (in three consecutive elections): an honest and personable state representative from my district with the memorable slogan, He’s his own man, but he works for you.

    To these brave young people who are fighting for the safety of their future (and ours), I wish them the very best. I feel like they have my back and I’ll do what I can to help. I’m afraid that’s more than I can say for my own generation.

  33. @Mary Frances I suspect we agree on many things but differ on a number of key points.

    This is not a great forum for discussion, but I should at least clarify my position as I don’t want to be misunderstood or mischaracterized.

    First, I’m not for “careful” banning of “certain” guns or accessories as that addresses (at least in previous bans) purely cosmetic issues and not function. To me, that indicates basic ignorance about how guns work and knowledge of different types of guns. Note, I’m not using ignorance as a pejorative term; many people simply don’t know. Note also that the ex post facto laws are expressly prohibited by the constitution which means that whatever weapon you want to ban won’t affect current weapons in the hands of individuals (also true for the 1934 ban on fully automatic weapons). I also suspect (no; I know) that you’d be hard pressed right now to find an AR-15 style rifle in gun stores (other than the very expensive ones) because moments after all this banning talk flared up, they were sold out.

    That’s not because everyone wants an “assault rifle”. It’s because it’s a reliable and versatile gun that can be adapted to shooters of various sizes (telescoping stock) and that is easy to shoot (low recoil) and that is, in fact, used to hunt as well as other recreational activities. I suspect some of the buying is also as an investment of sorts since if they are banned, their value will increase.

    What I did say was to go ahead and ban them but at least recognize it’s purely a political stunt and not effective at reducing anything.

    Second, it might be worthwhile reading the current procedure for confronting active shooters. Paraphrasing: offer as much resistance as possible with whatever is at hand (they suggest things like staplers and stuff).

    Also, it’s worth reading this:

    I only know a few teachers, but given that shooting scenarios are not likely to go away, those I know would like the opportunity to have something more than a stapler at hand. I suspect that by your use of the word “idiotic” you would not be one of those willing to confront an active shooter with a gun. That’s fine; I, on the other hand, recognize the value of a gun in certain situations, and while I would not force its use on anyone, I’d rather not be told I could not use one.

    It might interest you to know that many states already allow teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools. This is neither something new or different. Two of the teachers I know taught in inner-city (read: crime-prone) school districts and had armed guards stationed in schools. That I know of, few parents or kids objected and neither did the teachers, but, of course, that’s anecdotal and I cannot speak for every student and every teacher.

    Is that a problem? Yes; we shouldn’t spend money on security. However, that’s the reality of the situation and until that changes I can’t, for the life of me, understand why that would not be the first steps we take. Then again, as I said, no one has explained to me how we go about changing the reality we have into a new and better reality. Perhaps I’m missing something obvious.

    Third, you mention I might not be listening to the “right” people; I’m listening to the news and hearing interviews with the protesters. I read a few articles, as well. I’ve read this post, for instance, and many like it.

    I’ve not heard concrete proposals but I’m glad to hear they are out there. Perhaps I’ll read about these other proposals soon. Perhaps something besides banning certain types of guns and accessories.

  34. I was really impressed by the demonstrations all over the world. And I think the 800,000 turnout number for Washington DC is a low-ball number by several hundred thousand, personally. Looking at the photos, it looks like way more than a million people to me.

    And those kids! So focused, so organized, so impressive. I’m so proud of them. Ms Gonzalez and Mr Hogg are the names I caught. But all of them all over the country made me proud and hopeful for the future.

    If they keep up that focus, if they do register to vote, then show up to vote, to organize, to work for progressive candidates in both primaries and the general in November! That will really mean change for the better!

  35. Dear Andrew,

    Nobody actually cares about the 2nd Amendment.

    Okay, not entirely true. If you’re arguing gun-control law in a federal court, then you care. Otherwise, this is an irrelevant distraction.

    For one, both sides are capable of creating intellectually brilliant arguments about why they are entirely correct in their understanding of what the amendment means, and none of those arguments change anybody’s minds. There is not a consensus on this, not popularly and not on the Supreme Court. It’s a coin flip.

    For two, when it comes to the popular discourse, almost nobody involved in this conversation is an Original Intentist. Divining what the founding fathers intended is irrelevant, Because collectively, we don’t care what they intended. Except when it agrees with how we think the Constitution should be interpreted. When it doesn’t, almost all of us ignore intent.


    Dear disperser,

    (this is all responding to your first post)

    On the NRA point, the CNBC commentary is demonstrably wrong. It frames the influence debate purely in terms of money. That’s not the issue for politicians — electability is (which is what they want the money for — to pay for campaigning). Whether or not voting statistics back it up, the NRA has convinced a lot of politicians that they can make or break them in the voting booth. That’s influence.

    In addition, the NRA has established itself as the point person in the debate. It’s who everyone turns to, in and out of politics and the news media, for the “pro-gun” side. It doesn’t matter if only 20% of gun owners are NRA members. It doesn’t matter if 80-90% of gun owners disagree with the NRA’s stand on these matters. They haven’t established a voice. A “silent majority” is a politically useless and impotent majority.

    If you want to see the anti-gun side stop treating the NRA as synonymous with the pro-gun side, the pro-gun side has to come up with an alternative spokesperson with a loud voice. As it stands now, the debate is always with the NRA.

    On the rest of your post, there are two schools of thought on political change, which I’ll call the “incrementalist” and the “go for broke.” Neither approach is inherently correct, and they both have their successes and failures. I don’t think there is any objective argument or data that says one is guaranteed to work better than the other for effecting change. (I am strongly inclined to “go for broke”, but I’m trying to be impartial in my analysis. I can come up with plenty of wins — and losses — on both sides over the past 60 years.)

    The argument against go-for-brokers basically runs “You’re asking for two loaves, which is utterly ridiculous, so you’re not going to get anything.” The argument against incrementalists runs “You’re starting off by asking for half a loaf, so all you’re going to get is a quarter, at best, if you get anything.” The argument for the incrementalists is, “Well, hell, at least we get SOMETHING!” The argument for the go-for-brokers is “If we weren’t pushing the envelope by asking for two loaves, the other side wouldn’t give ANYTHING!”

    They are both really good sets of arguments, because they are both sometimes true and sometimes false. Judging by history.

    You’re promoting the incrementalist position, which is fine, but understand the strategy on the other side. There is method to the madness, and it may help get what you want.

    This is hardly limited to gun debates — the current battle for control over the Democratic Party reflects this, and currently the incrementalists are in control, although it hasn’t served their goals particularly well for 25 years. Conversely, the go-for-brokers managed to take control of the Republican Party. Even putting the bizarreness of Trump aside, whether this is a long-term good strategy for them is dubious at best.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  36. Rick Santorum criticizing the students for wanting “someone else to solve their problem” through legislation makes me so angry I can hardly talk about it. Could he be any more patronizing? Isn’t that what most legislation is designed to do–to solve someone’s problems? More specifically, he said that students should “instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that– where there is a violent shooter,” First of all, it’s not either/or; they can lobby for legislation AND take CPR classes (which may or may not actually be useful in dealing with traumatic injuries, but CPR is generally good to know). More egregious, in my opinion, is the assumption that of course there will be more shootings in schools, students will be faced with situations involving violent shooters, and they should just suck it up and get ready to have to deal with them instead of trying to prevent them.

  37. disperser@4:38: Okay, let me try to take these in some sort of order . . . lesser to greater significance, maybe? Well, as they catch my attention, perhaps, since I really don’t want to start a debate that is (as you have mentioned) not really appropriate to this particular forum.

    Third, you mention I might not be listening to the “right” people: I seem to have implied something that I didn’t mean, and I apologize for that. I said that I had heard people–engaged in conversations with people–debating specific proposals, and I assumed that we’d been listening to different people; that’s genuinely all I meant. You said you hadn’t heard/read such debates; I said I had. It could simply be coincidence; I intended no criticism of the people you are listening to, or your own reading or listening practices.

    I’m not for “careful” banning of “certain” guns or accessories: I’m aware of the difference between fully automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons; I admit my attitude towards the AR-15 et al. is probably colored by the opinions of hunters in my family (who consider semi-automatics “wussy” weapons, not for real hunters), but I also know that anecdotal evidence (or opinions) isn’t universal–or particularly helpful. Banning all semi-automatics isn’t going to happen, I’m aware. But one of the arguments I’ve heard about “accessories” is that selling any accessory designed to turn a semi-automatic into an (illegal) automatic is probably both constitutional and a good idea; I’d also listen hard to people proposing limiting magazine size and the number of guns a specific individual might purchase. One of the proposals that hasn’t gotten much play is a special “collectors” license for people who want to own guns of many different types, with rules for display and regular checks on usage; that strikes me something worth exploring, as part of more universal and consistent background checks–and so on.

    I only know a few teachers, but given that shooting scenarios are not likely to go away, those I know would like the opportunity to have something more than a stapler at hand: Then the teachers you know are as atypical as (possibly) the hunters in my family. (I swear, I’m trying to be polite here; this really is a hot-button issue for me.) I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years, in varying types of institutions; guns in the classroom, carried by teachers, are a bad idea. Never mind that they won’t do much for mass shootings in general; the training, personality, and physical abilities necessary to carrying guns in defense of others are so far outside of training, personality, and physical abilities of most teachers that the Armed Teacher might as well be a figure out of a fantasy novel. Take a look at my current department, for example. Who would you arm? The one who walks with a cane? The ex-marine who has had three eye surgeries in the past two years? Me, the techno-klutz who can’t manage to keep her STAPLER in working order? (Since you mention staplers–I’d be better off armed with a stapler than a gun, speaking personally. At least I might be able to throw it someone, and if it got stolen I wouldn’t have to worry about it causing life-threatening damage.) Even if you say, well, okay, we’ll have to wait until the current generation(s) of teachers pass on and start including this as part of the curriculum for training new teachers . . . good luck with that. Most teachers can work until they hit 70 or so; most police and firefighters age out in their fifties, I believe (I know it varies by community, so I’m not being too specific). No. The Parkland kids are dead right on this one–arming teachers is not a viable solution. More armed and specially training security guards patrolling the halls? Metal detectors? Schools designed and built like prisons? I’d listen to any of those–but not arming teachers.

    Sorry. As I said, this is one of my hot-button issues. I keep thinking back to all the “shooter on campus” drills I’ve participated in, and imagining how different they would have been if we’d included the idea that some of the teachers would be armed. Not to mention my experiences in the past with armed students . . . no. Guns in the classroom, teachers being responsible for guns–those are not only not solutions. They are a recipe for future disaster.

  38. Hey, Boo!

    I certainly hope so, but even so I’m keeping the long long view. The GOP have so traumatized these next two generations, especially those in marginalized groups, by showing their whole A$$es, the past few years, that there’s going to be a reckoning, regardless of whatever they do. And I mean emotionally and mentally traumatized them. This right here, is just a shot fired over the bow, I suspect. Look to the next ten to twenty years to have interesting political results because these kids are definitely going to remember this.

  39. Not only that, but for every emboldened bigot out there, there’s an emboldened little black girl, Asian boy, Latina , or queer auntie, who has found the courage to speak out, too. I love it!

  40. I went to the rally in a large city in my mid-Western purple state. My friend (old campaigner) and me (new to this) were both struck by the crowd. It was a white middle class crowd, complete with kids and dogs and lawn chairs for the grandparents. These were protesters who, on reading the signs to ‘stay on the sidewalks, please’, did, and waited for the crossing lights when they marched. These were soccer parents who don’t go to rallies, but do vote. This might be an interesting year.

  41. I’d say the most disturbing response to the march I saw online, especially within the #MarchForOurLives hashtag on Twitter, was the number of alleged conservatives attempting to hijack it and derail the message by saying “Oho, that’s rich, coming from a bunch of Planned Parenthood-donating baby-killers.” The fact that they’d try to change the subject from kids dying in schools to THAT says a lot about how unhinged some of them can get.

    That said, I was at the SF march, and all of the speakers — my wife noted that not only were they mainly teens and pre-teens, but a lot of girls AND non-white kids — were amazing, well-spoken, and full of positive energy and great ideas. They weren’t looking for sympathy; they were demanding a long overdue change. If only I’d had that kind of bravery when I was their age.

  42. I should also add that many of them ALSO mentioned toxic masculinity being part of the issue with gun violence. I am so glad that they are making that part of their message.

  43. disperser @ 4:38 p.m.

    Note also that the ex post facto laws are expressly prohibited by the constitution which means that whatever weapon you want to ban won’t affect current weapons in the hands of individuals .

    I don’t think this is what “ex post facto” is about. “Ex post facto” means criminalizing something someone did prior to the passage of the statute. A ban on certain types of weapons would presumably provide some mechanism for current owners to give up their weapons without penalty, probably with some sort of payment in return to avoid claims of seizure without compensation.

  44. If I were a Republican politician, I’d be at least a bit afraid of being confronted by an 11-year-old girl who was a better public speaker than I am — and I’m comparing to the current Member of the House for my district who is running for Governor in November.

    Of course, the woman he’s likely to be running against is a better public speaker than the 11yo, which is probably not a comforting thought either. Still, they should all be looking at their career plans because yesterday I saw a 17 year old woman who is a match for anyone I’ve seen lately, barring only Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren. And unlike them, this young lady has a lot of time to improve.

  45. It’s so satisfying that they’re having none of the opposition’s BS! When grown adults have resorted to making fun of grieving teenagers, you know they’ve lost.

  46. Responding to Molon Labe:

    The use of 501(c)4 “Social” classification is normal. It is widely used by “conservatives” to conceal donors. Given the propensity of “conservatives” to personally attack and demonize supporters of causes they don’t like it may be that potential donors would prefer to keep their names confidential just to avoid unpleasantness.

    I actually would like to see the category abolished; it is widely abused. The NRA, for example, is a 501(c)4; this is one of the things that keeps possible Russian money concealed.

    So, if you wish to equate 501(c)4 with suspicious “dark money” please stop. You may not understand this, but the folks at the Free Beacon certainly know better; they started as part of a 501(c)4 called The Center for American Freedom.

    Trying to slur causes and people with whom you disagree with dark hints about funding is disingenuous, dishonest, and dishonorable.

  47. Another teacher here (33 years and counting). Agree that arming teachers isn’t really practical for the previously stated reasons, plus more. What happened in Florida was a tragic perfect storm of utter incompetence by the very people who had the tools to stop it but fumbled at every step. I don’t think a novel could be written and get past a publisher’s editor having so many obvious mistakes made to lead up the the tragedy that happened. It was that implausible a set of blunders on the powers of those who are entrusted to protect us.

    NPR sort of had it right a few days ago with piece about making schools “softer” and more “friendly” with lots more invested in stuff like guidance counselors and intervention teams working on mental health issues instead of hard defenses. I think they hit the mark with the notion that most of stopping shootings like this is the culture, not just the access to weapons. Face it, the USA is an armed society. There are just too many weapons out there to ever stop mass shootings in general. The semi automatic AR 15 is the most popularly owned rifle in America. Think banning them will be like the miracle unicorn stepping out of the forest to kneel at your feet? Ban magazine? Last time I heard, according to the industry stats of the makers of these, there are more privately held magazines than the military has in its current inventory. Hate them all you want, they ain’t going to just disappear. Limit magazine capacity to five shots? Really? So only the first five deaths are okay? Also, do you know how fast a magazine can be switched out? Create a special license system for just collectors? Already the law. Its called an 03 license.

    Self loading weapons have been around for over a century now. Banning one model won’t work, banning them all won’t work. Just wait until a new generation of 3D printers means people can create black market guns out of simple designs like the old WW 2 Sten SMG. The jinn is out of the box, and he isn’t going to come back in. We already have some fairly strict laws on the books about the misuse of guns. Why is enforcement such a problem? Mental health issues barring someone from buying or even owning a gun have been the law of the nation since 1968. That is 50 years folks. Yet we still seem to be unable to check those records (when they exist at all), and somehow nobody seems to want to actually do the work to follow up on a person who is clearly a threat to those around them and take the weapons when there is a clear and present danger? How many police visits did our latest spree killer have before he went on his rampage? It is shocking if you know the number, even more shocking that nothing was done about it. Report him to the FBI? Nothing happened. Armed security?- You mean the guy who refused to follow his training to actually do what he was sworn to do?

    Nothing will work if we don’t create a system that works. Banning guns and making a huge segment of our population technical felons over the guns they won’t turn in isn’t going to solve anything.

    So when all I see is the talk of ban, ban, ban. I can only shake my head over the wrongheadedness and misdirection at trying to legislate a mental health and law enforcement problem out of existence through a simplistic fix. Perhaps many of my fellow contributors have no use for gun ownership, but the 2nd Amendment isn’t going away. Asking for extreme measures only inflames your opposition and justifies their fears about creeping socialism.

    We need better resources to deal with the obvious mental issues before tragedy happens. We need laws and the people in charge of enforcing the laws to do the job they are supposed to do. Give them better tools yes, like more clear cut ways to follow a “due process” to take weapons from those unfit to have them. Give us mental health resources to deal with the overwhelming flood of people with problems out there. The passion to want to do something is understandable, but right now all I see with many is an irrational mob reaction blaming a tool for a deep rooted societal problem this isn’t going to go away with the stroke of some legislator’s pen.

  48. Three cheers for David Hogg, he is really leading the movement. But of course, this could only be done by a white straight male, it’s 2018.

    With all due respect to Sr. Hogg, I wouldn’t be so sure that the effective leadership of the movement isn’t a bisexual Latina named Gonzalez. Times do change, don’t they?

  49. @A I Mychalus So why can’t the culture change be not being an armed society?

  50. @ just different, because if we changed the culture we wouldn’t care one wit if a person had a 105mm howitzer and no one would ever get hurt by it. Intent is everything.

  51. [Deleted because it was just so sad — js]

  52. @disperser

    There are concrete proposals. Concrete examples, even.

    One thing I’ve asked many times, but never have gotten a straight answer to

    Why does this not happen in countries with reasonable gun control?

    Not on this scale, not this often, not even close!
    Not in Germany, where I’m stationed right now, not in France, not in the UK, not in Ireland, not in Italy. Not in Denmark, not in Spain, not in Sweden. Not in Australia, New Zealand, not in Canada, not in Japan.


    They have hunters, they have guns. They sometimes have people going off the rails.
    They do not have children terrified to go to school. To movie theaters, to dance clubs.
    They do not have another round of “Thoughts and Prayers” every other month.


  53. If the ex post facto clause applied to forbidding objects, the synthetic drug makers would be able to grandfather all of their creations. Nope, not happening.

  54. 1) Sugar and Spice, please meow at the white courtesy phone. I think there’s a commenter in aisle 56 in need of your assistance.

    2) It seems like an obvious sign of moral bankruptcy that the NRA and their supporters and servants have to mock students with dead friends than make even bogus arguments for their position.

  55. @Mary Frances. Rest assured, I took nothing of what you said as an affront. The purpose of my response was to clarify that I was not “for” banning and to expand on my position.

    I won’t go into most of the other stuff (hunting, semi-autos, what hunters say) but will comment on the teacher thing. Again, we are both giving anecdotes and personal experiences . . . except that I also mentioned that it has already a thing and has been for many years. I do agree giving a gun to a teacher does not turn them into members of a Seal team.

    And, if we are going to listen to students, let’s hear from those who are for arming teachers (yes, there are such beasts but they don’t get much press).

    Then again, I’m not proposing forcing guns on teachers and while I applaud your willingness to face an active shooter with a stapler, understand the odds are very high that you will die. There are others who would rather have something more substantial. We can argue back and forth that in your world all teachers are decrepit and hardly able to defend themselves and in mine at least some would be willing to act in the defense of themselves and their pupils . . . but, again, this is not something that is “being proposed” . . . it’s already here with something like 18 states allowing it and a few states not even requiring that teachers who hold a concealed carry permit notify the school when they are carrying.

    It may be a joke, and people treat it as a joke, but what usually stops shootings is someone confronting the shooter with a gun. To be unnecessarily flippant, nowhere in the statistics do I see data for how many school shootings were stopped by someone using a stapler.

    As an aside, it might be interesting for you to read about the incident that brought this to national attention:

    Note that had their plan worked, there would have been something like 400+ killed by the bombs they planted. You should also know that those two shooters have actual fan clubs with individuals speaking of topping their body count.

    In the aftermath of the Florida shooting, there were a number of “credible threats” all over the US, some of them with bombs.

    Focusing on the guns and especially guns who look mean as a “first step” might make some people feel good, but to me it remains a failure to look at the data and address the problem in meaningful ways.

    As this seems repetitive, I’ll probably not answer again as I don’t think I can make my argument any clearer and I’ve not heard anything that to me sounds like addressing the immediate problem. I might suggest checking out law enforcement surveys (not the political appointees, but actual officers on the front line) with regards to shooters and concealed carry and such matters.

  56. @shiarrael
    > Why does this not happen in countries with reasonable gun control?

    Do you mean you haven’t gotten a straight answer from US anti-gun-control or gun-control-skeptic people, or that you have never heard any answer to this? Because if it’s the latter, there’s a pretty clear research-based answer (more guns in private hands = more gun violence, all of those other places have way way fewer privately owned guns per capita than we do).

    But I’m not sure that disperser is arguing that point. I think they are saying that they think there’s no possible way for us to cut the private guns per capita number in our society, so we should give up on that and try to adapt ourselves to a reality where there are too many guns by trying to mitigate the risk of violence in other ways. (They also seem really focused on school shootings, rather than overall gun violence, including suicides).

    Personally, I don’t hold with their (from my perspective) defeatism — maybe even nihilism, when it gets to the point where the argument is “We live in an armed society and that will never change, so we may as well arm more people.” And I am also tired of the argument that goes “Guns are so *complicated*! Unique among all cultural artifacts, they can never be effectively regulated! We shouldn’t even try!”. But to my eyes, they aren’t saying too many guns aren’t the problem, just that they think the too many guns problem can never be solved.

    That said, it sounds like disperser and I could maybe find common ground on ideas like increased liability/insurance requirements and training/registration requirements. I don’t think there’s any reason different people can’t work on different fronts. I also think sitting with one’s arms crossed saying “I won’t join in until everybody promises not to promote any ideas I don’t like” kinda sounds like a convenient excuse for kibitzing from the sidelines instead of rolling up sleeves and pitching in…

  57. @et al addressing my comments.

    I’m perfectly happy engaging, but really, I’m not a spokesman for anyone. When you ask certain questions or make certain statements, do me a favor and do what I do . . . research the matter. Only, when you research the matter, don’t constrain yourself to sources who only parrot what you already “know” is the “truth”.

    We may not agree on stuff, but it’s not my job to educate anyone on what is a tremendously complicated social and political issue. I’m comfortable with my research and can quote numbers and statistics with the best of them. Logic, reason, willingness to compromise . . . check, check, check.

    But not here. Here is not the place for this debate. Want to engage me in a discussion? Email me. Leave emotions at home and bring reason, logic, statistics, a willingness to solve problems, and an open mind.

  58. There were gun owners at the march. The NRA doesn’t represent the views of nearly as many gun owners as they claim to.

    @sidcup – David Hogg has been quick to admit that he’s benefiting from white male privilege & chide the media for ignoring the 25% of the students at his school who are black. These kids have also gone out of their way to include gun violence that isn’t mass shootings and include minorities who face violence in their neighborhoods.

  59. @Andrew: Aw. At this point, I wish y’all would invade–reasonable gun laws, national health care, mandatory paid leave, and your Cadbury eggs have real chocolate.

  60. disperser @7:48: I agree with you that this isn’t the best forum for this debate; in fact, I wasn’t going to respond to your comment until I read this line: while I applaud your willingness to face an active shooter with a stapler, understand the odds are very high that you will die.

    I wasn’t exactly joking. I would be better off with a stapler than a gun, because in both cases I would die . . . but with a gun, the chances of my injuring or killing one of my students or myself would be much, much higher. Since I’d be dead in either case, I’d really much rather limit the damage that I, personally, would cause to those around me. That’s about as courageous as I get, in the common-sensible contemplation of the possibility. In my opinion, based on my experience, any teacher who brings a gun into a classroom–concealed carry permit or not–is endangering his students and his colleagues. Concealed carry training doesn’t equate to “reacting properly when faced with an active shooter in a crowded classroom”; such training is neither simple nor a one-time process (witness the number of trained personnel at Parkland who didn’t react properly; in addition, I’ve got teachers-with-guns horror stories to share, but I’d rather not get into the “trading anecdotes” game, and I suspect you agree with that); and it doesn’t even begin to deal with how first responders are likely to react to the sight of an adult with a gun in front of them, when they’ve been called to a campus for a “suspected shooter” alarm. Among other things. If we’re going to spend this kind of money in making schools safer, I can think of much, much more practical things to spend it on.

    For the record, my “stapler” comment really wasn’t announcing any willingness to face an active shooter anyway, even flippantly. Again speaking completely personally, f I had to, if I carelessly walked around a corner and faced a gun, I believe that I’d be better off with a stapler–but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to any such thing. In fact, that might be one of the reasons that those teachers (and yes, I know they exist, as do students who claim they’d feel safer with armed teachers; see my above comment about dueling anecdotes) who say they want to carry guns in class make my blood pressure rise: they are announcing their willingness to face shooters, and I think that that is irresponsible of them. I know what I’m supposed to do, what will be most useful and what I believe I can actually do, in the case of a shooter on campus: it starts with “hide,” and goes on from there.

  61. Dear dispenser,

    I don’t know if you’re ever planning to most here again, but if you are some words of friendly advice:

    Do not attempt to claim you are the voice of reason or that the only reasonable way to cast the debate is in your terms. Not here, anyway. You will get your head handed to you, and deservedly so.

    You got at least two things wrong– the influence of the NRA on gun politics (that column you linked to was *stupidly* narrowly constructed) and what ex post facto means (you are soooo very wrong about that one).

    You don’t know as much as you think you do. Do not act like you know more or can reason better than the rest of us.

    pax / Ctein

  62. Just a head’s up.

    Reddit was cannibalized by Right Wing Ideologues. Hard-core. We warned everyone but no-one took it seriously so you’ve got like hundred million radicalized youths right there.

    That’s on YOU, Adults with a nice media line of revenue ($100k – $5mil).

    And the mainstream is basically broken and wrong.


    We Might have engaged with “YOUTH” and told them the secrets of the veils.


    Yeah, despite the DNC and media stuff over gun stuff where y’all thing you have it under control?

    Yeah, no.

    Look to your almonds, your strawberries, your farm produce.

    While you were worried about guns, we worried about your System.


    Not Cool. White America Failed the Test.

  63. Very good post, but one point I think worth considering: the election may not be until November, but the decisions about who runs and who doesn’t and the some of the primaries are happening right now. The Democrats are going to be under alot of pressure to make this an issue in their campaigns and the Republicans, as much as they would like to sneak through the primary with an A+ NRA rating and ignore the issue in the general, are also going to have to weigh in on it in the general election.

    This issue may lose some of the urgency depending on the events that happen next, but it’s already making a difference in alot of ways.

  64. Marched here on the frozen tundra (with ~20k others on a bitterly cold day). The kids hit the point that you needed to register, you needed to get your friends to register and you needed to get your butt & all your friends butts to the polls in November. It was the main focus of the speeches after the discussion of what was happening in our schools. I will be stunned if they do not show up.

    30,000 votes spread across WI, MI and PA and Tronald Dump is not in the White House. Many of the gerrymandered districts will flip with just a few handfuls (NOTE: there are 114 R held seats from districts not as favorable to the GOP as PA-18 was).

    There are nearly 51million school kids in the US, most not old enough to vote. If they can move 1 million kids over 18 or their parents to vote this fall could finally be the reckoning the GOP has been begging for for 25 years.

  65. Disperser, you wrote: “Note also that the ex post facto laws are expressly prohibited by the constitution which means that whatever weapon you want to ban won’t affect current weapons in the hands of individuals (also true for the 1934 ban on fully automatic weapons).” You have misunderstood the prohibition of ex post facto laws. Those are laws which make an act criminal after it has occurred, which was legal when it happened. For example, if a law was passed making it a crime to buy a gun of a specific type, and also making it a crime to have made such a purchase prior to the passage of the law, THAT would be an ex post facto law. But Congress could prohibit the possession of a formerly legal .substance, and require people to turn it in, or otherwise dispose of it within a reasonable time. That is what was done for alcohol when Prohibition was passed. A total assault weapons ban need not exempt currently owned weapons that were purchased legally. As a practical matter The chance of any such law being passed would be near zero, and it might be ruled to violate the 2nd Amendment by the current Court if it were to be passed.

  66. There was a guest post over at Angry Staff Officer that has been haunting me:

    “As I look at the videos of blood and bodies and the listen to the soundtrack of screams and gunshots and anguished families, it all looks so familiar. It looks like the places I spent my twenties in overseas, shooting and fighting and calling in MEDEVACs for dying soldiers and wounded civilians. It looks like ‘over there,’ when the whole point of being ‘over there’ was so that it wouldn’t happen over here. But happen it does.”


    It’s kind of scary. What the hell is going on here? We aren’t talking about a suburb of Aleppo. There’s a war going on in Syria. This is happening here. Is there a war going on here? It sure seems like it.

  67. Disperser does have a point: Restrictions on the purchase of guns are far from a sufficient solution. I happen to think that they are a good start, but other measures would also be helpful. More meaningful registration/licensing would help. Training for gun owners, mandatory or strongly encouraged, would help. Better mental health support and treatment would help. And no doubt various other measured beyond those now being loudly demanded. . We can discuss the merits of such measures. But we must not let such discussion be a way to postpone any action until there is no longer any pressure to act.

  68. Dear Ctein,

    Thank you for your comment. I don’t think I know more than anyone else, but I think I know opinion when I hear it. Facts are easily checked. Opinion is just someone saying stuff. If I’m guilty of it, then I apologize.

    As for ex post facto, I used to live in Colorado when they passed a magazine limit law. That meant you could not sell those magazines. In the months before the ban was to take effect, the market was flooded with 20 and 30 rounds magazines (heck, I bought a couple myself). They did not become illegal to own after the law went into effect. They just couldn’t be sold. They could still be passed on to family members.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken in my assumption about guns and precedent won’t matter. Perhaps they can be made illegal after the fact. The California ban has not (yet) made it illegal to keep guns already owned — but now banned for sale — but maybe they’re gearing up to do so. I’m betting unreasonable people like me will challenge that in court.

    I’m usually willing to be educated, but, I’ll take your advice to heart. I’ll bow to superior reasoning and refrain from voicing anything but agreement with everyone here . . . or, not voice anything at all.

    It will be good practice for me since that’s where we seem to be headed anyway. To wit, feel free to reason away without my meager and obviously misinformed input.

  69. David Siegal:

    You are referring to a Constitutional Amendment. That’s a whole different kettle of fish, as they say. Guns are, like it or not, covered under the Second Amendment.

    I often hear people wanting to repeal the Second Amendment. That requires ratification by (currently) 38 states and that’s after everyone agrees on the language of the repeal/replace amendment.

    All you need to look at is at any US map of state guns laws and conceal carry and it should be evident that’s a very tall order.

    But, I’m glad you brought up the 18th amendment. As I recall, that gave rise to organized crime and didn’t seem to work out too well. Booze, and its ills, is a pet peeve of mine and wonder why we can’t have the same talk about a substance that does a lot more harm than guns.

    I’d love to have that discussion but I’ve just been informed I can’t reason and have my facts wrong. I replied to your comment because, you know, there’s a chance I might be right about this whole amendment stuff, but I must now retire and sulk as I nurse my bruised ego back to health.

  70. kaleberg has it right. As I angrily read the online mockery and derision, couched in racist, sexist, homophobic and alt-right standard insults directed toward the brave youth, I thought to myself that the producers of this shit show were totally terrified of what these young people represent. The specific survivors of Florida and other shootings are *blooded in battle.* They didn’t get to shoot back, but they came under fire, and they learned their own capacity to respond. Most of us never get to experience that, and so never know. These survivors know. They know what they’re capable of. And they know they’ve been in a shooting war.

    The wonder of social media means that their peers, contrary to the common belief that they are separated and isolated by digital society, are demonstrating that they’re connected, and empathetic in ways we older types can barely perceive. I hope that in the fall, during the election, all of the GOP’s chickens come home to roost in the ways that will make the most difference to our future. Vote the bastards out. Do not assume your vote is not needed. If you don’t vote NOW, when will you?

  71. @dispenser

    “But not here. Here is not the place for this debate. Want to engage me in a discussion? Email me”

    Then what, one wonders, are you doing here in the first place? This is a wonderful place for this debate. A wide audience is reached, with more minds than just yours and mine to consider the issue. Are not two heads better than one? We even have a moderator more than willing and able to mallet those who do not play nice.

    You make some good suggestions – training and insurance – and some that one would only hear in America – nothing can be done so let’s all arm up, teachers included, it’s not the NRA we should be fighting( I guess you must have missed those Dana Loesch videos) and we’ll never, ever be able to get a handle on all those AR 15s, high capacity clips and so on.

    This is a uniquely American problem. We do indeed have far more firearms and firearm accessories in circulation in this country than anywhere else in the world. We also have far more firearm related deaths and injuries than any other first world nation – by an impossibly huge margin. And the first point is the cause of the second point. It’s all the guns floating around in this country that leads to all the deaths and injuries from gunshot wounds – Occam’s razor. Tap dance around it all you wish, it is all those guns out there that leads to all the gun violence we see in this country.

    I distrust the way you have framed this issue – banning this or that will do no good, this is the way it is and so we have to make the best of it and, oh yeah, socialism. Among other things. I am distilling down pretty freely here. It’s late. I’m tired.

    It is true that there is a sizable demographic in this country that is, shall we say, drunk on guns right now. That does not mean the rest of us have to just put up with it. Folks like you and I should talk about this as much as possible to find common ground and common sense solutions to this very real and very large problem – or folks like me are going to get pushed past the end of our tether. And then, yeah, you’re damn right we’ll ban ‘em.

  72. Dear dispenser,

    Passive-aggressive suits you even less than implied superiority.

    I did mean it to be FRIENDLY advice. You argue (and cop an attitude) like someone who is used to being the smartest person in the room, who can (or at least believes they can) argue rings around the rest and so define the terms and rules of the debate.

    At least half the regulars here are routinely the smartest persons in their rooms. What we have learned is that, here, we are NOT.

    Well, not everyone has learnt that, but the ones who don’t get smacked upside the head pretty hard and regularly.

    It is very unlikely that you are intellectually or factually superior to the people here. Possibly… but most unlikely.

    pax / Ctein

  73. @ nellern

    Why not here? Simple. Unlike other blogs, these comments are not nested. Unlike other blogs, I can’t sign up for notifications, so if I’m in a discussion (as I am now), I’m to periodically check if anyone is conversing with me by scanning the comments. Then, there’s a time limit of two days . . . that assumes that I have a lot of time right now to spend in a conversation and that includes fact-checking stuff I read or is thrown at me.

    Yes, this is moderated and that’s good, but I still got sucked into a conversation with someone who has an issue with me (I’m passive aggressive, you see) as opposed to discussing the points.

    As for what I’m doing here, I subscribe to the blog. As a wannabe writer and someone who values Scalzi’s opinions, I find his input on many subjects valuable. Normally, I just observe, but I am occasionally moved to comment.

    Trust me, I’ve already realized what a huge mistake it is to voice a different opinion than the consensus. Right now, I’m trying to gracefully go back to being a fly on the wall while still civilly respond to direct questions even as I ignore other stuff.

    It will be easy since I have a dinner engagement and will miss the next number of hours. By then, I’ll hopefully be forgotten.

  74. I desperately wanted to march yesterday; I live in the DC suburbs. But my mom’s stroke two months ago has me overwhelmed and badly behind on work, and I finally realized I just couldn’t take the day to attend. But I fundraised, marched virtually on social media, and had the speeches streaming in my office.

    These kids give me a level of hope I haven’t had since the 2016 elections — that I perhaps haven’t had since election night of 2008, if the truth be told. They are driven, articulate, laser-focused, whip-smart, and do not accept “no” for an answer. When I was their age, I was a student leader, but that mostly meant editing the school newspaper and being an officer in Latin club … my biggest concerns were trying to ace the SATs, and get accepted to a first-rate college! These young people put me – and my entire generation, which left them this mess to clean up – to shame. I am unabashedly in awe of their ferocity. (And I look forward to someday voting for Emma Gonzales for president!)

    To Scalzi: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and for as always providing this space for courteous discussion absent scathing vitriol and vituperative harassment.

  75. Using kids to scare the Right about gun control is brilliant. After all, who wants Republican voters to become complacent ahead of the November elections?

  76. Strange. When the latest shooting happened I was reading the BBC website, in English. Before I scrolled my eyes down to see where the shooting was, I knew it would not be in continental Europe or the U.K. or Canada but in America. Strange how sometimes you know.

    Back during the Obama administration, after an earlier shooting, I had a daydream of calling the NRA head to the White House, on camera, with smiles and cheers and NOT appearing anti-gun. Just giving the NRA one year to have many membership meetings with brainstorming and so forth, moving up to different levels, to ultimately come up with a plan to “reduce gun violence,” a plan that could theoretically include not being anti-gun, reporting back on camera in one year’s time.
    Actually, in my thought-experiment the NRA would fail, thereby giving the White House a public mandate to try.

    You may say I’m just a dreamer, but the NRA had no one with dreams. Now the NRA is faced with a tidal pressure of simple clear plan: control guns. I have no sympathy for their plight.

  77. 1) With “high-value” targets of limited number (Congress, courthouses, city halls), the “more guns, more safety” philosophy is not held – instead, guns are banned inside for anyone other than the (highly) trained security within. Perhaps Rubio and Santorum ought to explain why this philosophy is appropriate for them but not for others.

    2) With other targets of conservative ire (abortion, pornography, illegal immigration), children are valued essentially infinitely, justifying general restrictions on others’ actions for their protection. In the case of school shootings and potential gun restrictions or registrations, however, the values of children’s/young adults’ lives seems significantly lower than their right to have and use guns wherever they wish. The unwillingness (for the most part) of gun advocates and their supporters in Congress to engage substantively with their arguments further indicates their lack of value. It would seem reasonable to ask why general restrictions or registration for guns are inappropriate here why other restrictions on Constitutional rights (1st and 4th Amendments) have been seen by the same people as appropriate. It also seems to make little sense why those who have paid a large cost for their freedoms would not be angry at their contempt.

    3) In other circumstances, the testimony of crime victims and their advocacy for intervention is seen (particularly by Republicans) as unimpeachable. Their contempt for them and their advocacy seems hypocritical (though not inconsistent with other “intellectual” positions where what they do not wish to hear is therefore untrue).

    4) Bombs can do a lot more damage than guns, but they are significantly harder to use and implement. They (and their components) are also substantially restricted – hence the far lower number of people killed by them. Saying that the Columbine killers would have killed far more with bombs than guns neglects the key fact that they couldn’t do so – that they lacked the significant skill to make them work, while the lower barrier to mass murder with semiautomatic rifles with large (> 10 rounds) magazines enabled them to achieve their mission.

    5) I suspect a bunch of kids marching wouldn’t arouse anyone for Trump who already wasn’t for him – his approval numbers indicate that not very many people other than hard-core Republicans (who were already voting) want him and his enablers around. Kids, on the other hand, have been inconsistent at best at voting. Anything that inspires them to vote is not likely to help Republicans.

  78. disperser @ March 26: Huh? Disperser, I never thought you meant that this wasn’t a place to discuss the issues because you’d be “going against the consensus”; I assumed you meant that Our Host’s dislike of thread drift meant that you didn’t want to risk shifting the discussion from the March itself . . . that’s what I meant, in any case.

  79. Was in Austin visiting a friend. Very large rally there, kids, dogs, teachers, lots of students, etc. So big that a lot of people drifted off as they couldn’t hear the PA set up at the capitol building. Some good sings – “my shoulders are more regulated than your guns” and “I’m not safe with my teacher scissors, don’t give me a gun.” Pretty impressive to see, seemed mainly on target, though a fair amount of Beto O’Rourke t-shirts (yeah, like you’ll ever defeat that vacuous opportunistic scum ball Ted Cruz).

    Plus, of course, the obligatory Terrified White Male, in tactical vest, pistol, combat knife, and some AK variant (probably an AK-101). I’m assuming he left the AR-15 at home, because you know he had one – maybe he thought that would be inappropriate/insensitive? Somehow some rando with an assault rifle made me feel less safe, I’d have rather taken my chances with most of the Austin PD and a bunch of Texas State Rangers doing security, somehow.

    I doubt anything will change – to stop most gun deaths from crimes, ban handguns, for mass shootings, ban anything with more than 5 rounds (magazines not switchable without tools – at least slow down the shooter) – hunting rifles and shotguns are fine. I’m from the UK, which of course banned handguns after Dunblaine and assault rifles after Hungerford, by collecting and destroying all the guns. Though there were literally four orders of magnitude fewer guns in the UK than the US.

    And if you’re going to have mental health provisions to take guns off people, that leads to a register (how else would you know?) and of course that gets the NRA and ammosexuals all “They’re gunna take ma gunz!!!” so will be fought tooth and nail.

  80. @Dispenser, maybe this is personal attitude, but I think you undermine your position by not admitting a mistake.

    You were wrong on “Ex Post Facto.” No shame there, and it’s not a key part of your argument. It’d be pretty easy to say, “Oops, I got that wrong” and move on. But instead, you’ve danced around with discussions of the 2nd and 18th amendments…both of which are entirely irrelevant to your error.

    While restrictions on Ex Post Facto laws means we couldn’t criminalize or punish previous firearms purchases, no one is suggesting that, and your original argument did not contemplate that. We would not fall afoul of those restrictions if we outlawed Bump Stocks, or weapons/accessories that hold above a certain number of rounds, er etc. Heck, we wouldn’t fall afoul of Ex Post Facto prohibitions if we banned firearms entirely. (Which I’m not advocating, and would be unconstitutional for other reasons.)

    You made a relatively minor factual mistake. Admit it. Move on.

  81. Three cheers for David Hogg, he is really leading the movement. But of course, this could only be done by a white straight male, it’s 2018.

    With all due respect to Sr. Hogg, I wouldn’t be so sure that the effective leadership of the movement isn’t a bisexual Latina named Gonzalez. Times do change, don’t they?

    Oh, you aren’t getting the (for want of a better term) market segmentation.

    David Hogg is the leader. Emma Gonzalez is the leader. Delaney Tarr is the leader. Sofie Whitney is the leader. Alfonso Calderon is the leader. Sarah Chadwick is the leader. Jaclyn Corin is the leader. Cameron Kasky is the leader. Alex Wind is the leader. Fred Guttenberg is the leader. Sam Fuentes is the leader. Trevon Bosley from Chicago is the leader. Edna Chavez from LA is the leader. Yolonda Reene King is the leader. Naomi Wadler is the leader, and she’s only eleven years old.

    The gay kid? Leading. The brainy nerd? Leading. The jock who lost a scholarship at the same time as a leg? Leading. The now only child? Leading. The now childless parent? Leading.

    That’s the problem with shooting this many people for this long. You get a LOT of people worked up, and that ratchet is never ever going back down.

    A number of people have mentioned Vietnam. As a young veteran, John Kerry told the US Senate about Vietnam:

    “Each day…someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake….How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

    I don’t know how to ask that question.

    But I know it’s got to be a hell of a lot easier than asking the next one to die for a mistake you’re never going to try to fix.

    (And what’s so goddamn frustrating is that we KNOW how to fix it. It’s like we KNOW how to lose weight, we just don’t want to diet, put in the workout, any of that crap. We just don’t want to. We’d rather spend time noodling around the edges, thinking we’re “making progress” when all we’re doing is slinging bullshit to make ourselves feel better.)

  82. Food for thought: the frontman for Eagles of Death Metal Jesse Hughes went off on a rant about those teens the commenter above me mentioned above from Parkland High School calling them “vile abusers of the dead.” Before you get your panties in a bunch over this, he was a survivor of that Paris shooting in 2015 that killed 89 people.

    After reading it, he could have a valid point about what some people may actually feel/view about the march.

  83. Despite there being limits to First Amendment free speech rights (e.g., yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none), as well as Second Amendment private gun ownership (e.g., gun registration and not allowing released felons to own guns), the NRA (and others) has done a great job of convincing the average NRA member that the Second Amendment is absolute. I recently had a conversation with a card-carrying NRA member (he pulled it out, unrequested, to show me), where he tried to argue that being for more gun restrictions was treasonous, and that it was his personal duty to stop it, with violence, if necessary.

  84. I’m impressed by the efforts of the renewed gun control movement. The march was impressive and the teenagers who are the face of the movement are even more so. Gun control has never before been a popular issue and now it is and one which has passionate supporters.

    But unless the NRA lock on the GOP goes away (and it is a lock based on a core of active one issue voters), we are not going to pass anything significant for a long time to come. Democrats may control the House next year and I hope we do…but Conor Lamb (the newly elected Democrat from Pennsylvania, winner of a special election in a very Republican district) already came out against new gun laws after the Florida shooting. The odds of taking over the Senate are lower and there is still the filibuster to deal with. And Donald Trump wields a veto pen.

    We should be prepared for this to take years for this to have an effect.

  85. Something that I found interesting about the Chicago march was how firmly focused all of the speakers were on injustice as the underlying context for gun violence. They were speaking not simply about gun reform legislation, nor school shootings, but about gun violence more broadly, and the need for systemic responses that address things like poverty, inadequate funding of schools in heavily African-American neighborhoods, fraught relations with the police, and so on.

    I’d known ahead of time that this sort of intersectionality was being deliberately pursued by the organizers (who demonstrated this in all kinds of small as well as large ways, such as restricting the actual speakers to people of color – the white kids only acted to introduce them, and didn’t speak on their own behalf). For a good quarter or a third of the crowd, I could tell that this was a new perspective for them, but it was received well. It also made it clear that gun violence isn’t going to be fixed by marching and carrying signs – no matter how large the crowd and how clever the signs – but by a lot of hard, complicated work and investing money and time.

    I think anyone who thinks these kids are immature and their movement simply a call to “ban guns” is missing the significance of what they’re really doing here. As one of the speakers noted, this is not just a march – this is a movement. And he’s right.

  86. @disperser, if (as you say) you want rational rather than emotional discussions, then model it. Passive-aggressive comments about how mean people are and how you’ve learned not to go against consensus here (even as you unironically continue to comment) do not signal that you want reasoned, emotion-free discussions – particularly when it’s in response to your having made a factual error. Instead, the message you’re sending is that you want everyone else to play by Marquis of Fantillier rules, while you, as the sole arbiter of what is a fair and thoughtful discussion, get to opt out.

    That suggests the problem here is not groupthink. It’s more accurate, I think, to note that Whatever is not a place where rhetorical sloppiness gets a gentle pass. And if you’re used to being the enfant terrible of your social group, or arguing only with friends whose different political positions are based on “that’s how I feel”, it’s going to be a rough ride.

  87. The march was a sign and perhaps a portent of November, but signs and portents can be wrong. In practical terms, what matters is the vote.

    A data point: Here in Indianapolis, the marchers stood in line for hours in six inches of snow in order to get into the State House, where they’d moved the protest on account of the weather. (Why the delay? Everyone had to pass thru the metal detector — one on each entrance — because weapons are prohibited inside the building.) Anyway, my daughter had a group of friends with her from high school and college, and they all said they could hardly wait until November to vote for the first time. People were also passing around voter registration forms. As you note, whether they actually do so, or do in sufficient numbers to change outcomes, remains to be seen, but I am optimistic.

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