Saturday, March 24, 2018


In recent days it appears that the anti-gun movement in America has gained significant traction. Much of the credit is going to classmates of murdered students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Those kids are receiving plenty of press and have proven adept at utilizing it along with social media to get their message out. How far it will go remains to be seen. So long as Trump is in the White House and we have a GOP dominated congress with various allegiances to NRA campaign funding, I'm not especially hopeful no matter how many magazine covers those well spoken, well meaning kids end up on. But this too shall pass. Fast forward to 2020 and if both the presidency and congress look a lot different than the current dumpster fire, perhaps meaningful action will finally be taken.

Not that I'll be holding my breath. Somehow Sandy Hook wasn't the ultimate game changer, and the victims there were practically babies. Go back further to when beloved Republican icon Ronald Reagan was shot. That got us the Brady Bill and that's about it. No matter how good these Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS kids are on camera, it doesn't mean that their outrage will mean much more than their personal allotments of 15 minutes of fame.

With that said, I'm all for supporting the movement for increased gun regulations while it at least temporarily has a head of steam. I'm not alone in lending support, just as I wasn't alone pre Sandy Hook when writing with great exasperation about why guns seem to have been afforded more of a right to flourish than people. Yet I've noticed something troubling in my twitter feed. Popping up every so often will be a gripe about the attention these kids are getting. I'm not referring to gun owning conservative Republicans who have the words of the 2nd Amendment stitched on their pillow cases. I'm talking about liberal leaning likely Democrats who agree that laws must be enacted to strengthen gun regulations and save lives. They too want to loosen the NRA's vise grip on our national conscience. But they're a little ticked off that this particular set of kids is receiving so much attention for keeping the gun conversation spotlighted rather than certain predecessors whom they feel were snubbed.

This is not a helpful point of view. Envy is not a good look. Who cares who gets credit for progress so long as progress is made? It doesn't matter which particular group of activists spurred on by which tragedy ends up with the most appearances on CNN and MSNBC. So long as something FINALLY happens to bring about change for the better, it's a well earned victory for humanity. Long before the #MeToo movement started popping after certain high profile women spoke up against certain high profile men, there were women who spoke up who failed to earn a hashtag for the effort. What ultimately matters is that the NEXT woman who speaks up, and not necessarily one with a high profile but perhaps your neighbor or perhaps even you, will be more likely to be taken seriously as result of heightened awareness. The Snowball Effect requires a great deal of rolling before what started out small enough to hold in one hand ends up the size of a boulder. So long as momentum is maintained, eventually it becomes too large and weighty to ignore.

Outrage over slowness to arrest the killer of Trayvon Martin. Unrest in Ferguson, MO over the killing of Mike Brown. People declaring that we CAN'T BREATHE when justice is choked out of us in wake of the murder of Eric Garner. Citizens of Baltimore, MD declaring enough is enough after the killing of Freddie Gray. The toppling of confederate statues after so many years accepting their presence along with that traitorous Dukes of Hazard flag. I could easily go on with example after example of matters coming to a boil. Regardless of the varying degrees of results achieved, they can all be seen as watershed moments for a righteous cause. An individual may be moved to more tears of outrage in certain cases than others. Perhaps you wanted the event that struck closest to your home to be the most notable game changer. Jordan Davis murdered by Michael Dunn over "loud music" should have been the tipping point. Valid stance. Renisha McBride shot dead on Theodore Wafer's porch hoping to get assistance after a car crash should have been the start of the revolution. I hear you. How about the sad case of Aiyana Jones? Shouldn't a death that senseless have resulted in urgent willingness to make things make greater sense?

Those tragedies all made splashes. Some resulted in slogans. Collectively they launched an organization/mindset called Black Lives Matter. Politicians have and will continue to utilize whichever one seems most likely to move the needle in their favor. The people will continue to #Resist the corrupt powers that be, and those in power will resist our push for change. Every so often circumstances will align in a way that yields tangible results. Once upon a time the culmination of a very long fight for equality was The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Perhaps The Gun Control Act of 2020 is a reachable star. And if it is, maybe for a variety of reasons more credit will go to white high school kids in Parkland, FL than will go to victims of gang violence in Chicago, IL.

But you know what? If The Gun Control Act of 2020 ends up an actual thing that comes to fruition, mattering most won't be who gets how great a share of credit for it. What will matter is fewer guns on the streets of Chicago and other inner cities. Fewer bullets hitting intended targets as well as unfortunate souls who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. What will matter is fewer mass shootings in high schools and elementary schools and concerts and wherever else they happen. Shootings won't be stamped out completely. Guns bought legally today will be purchased illegally tomorrow, and some of them will be obtained by madmen with evil intent. We can't eliminate senseless violence because we can't eradicate evil. What we can do is make the sudden loss of multiple lives more difficult to be managed by a lone individual with deranged mind plus an arsenal of weaponry. What we can do is act like we give a shit.

Once we do, if we ever do, I won't give credit to any one activist, or politician, or group of kids, or specific march, or particular hashtag. I'll credit everybody who stood up to evil and those who profit from it and said NO MORE. Perhaps it's time to accept that the days of lone heroes/martyrs such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X receiving the lion's share of credit for social progress are behind us. Yes, there will be certain spokespeople with greater face and name recognition than the rest. It could be a football player who puts himself in the line of fire. Or someone paid to talk on TV about one thing who feels compelled to use the platform to speak in their social media feed on another. Maybe a skinny black guy in a blue vest. Perhaps a high school girl with a buzz cut. No matter. In this new age we find ourselves in, what truly heals the world is our collective voice.