To build a movement, you need a common enemy
MADISON, Wis. — For the first time, I am beginning to see a glimmer of hope for the gun control movement and it is the Florida state Legislature.
Tuesday, as hundreds of high school students from Parkland, Florida, traveled to the state Capitol in Tallahassee to encourage stricter gun controls, the legislature voted by a party-line lopsided majority to refuse even the consideration of a ban on assault rifles.
If there could be a more blatant example of what those lawmakers think of the students who were grieving the massacre of 14 fellow students and three teachers a week earlier, I can’t imagine what it would be.
And that just might be the middle-finger gesture that convinces the nation’s young people that the government is not on their side.
Any movement, to be successful, needs a powerful enemy. That’s Community Organizing 101.
The gun control movement hasn’t really gained power, I think, because it lacks that enemy. The so-called “gun lobby” is too abstract to be identifiable. The National Rifle Association has a shadowy power and is led by a truly odious man – but where do you go to confront it?
But state legislatures meet in buildings and state legislators have real local ties, have offices and friends and business associates.
The Florida Legislature has shown in vivid form that it has contempt for that state’s children and I can’t believe they are going to forget it.
The same day that Florida did that, the Wisconsin state Assembly voted to reject state background checks of gun purchasers.
Our assemblymen did, however, vote to offer funds to schools that want to hire armed guards to engage in gunbattles should a maniac obtain weapons and bring them to school.
So it is not just Florida. It is the “system” that is perpetuating acceptance of periodic mass murder.
The “system” isn’t just the legislative process, but includes many other institutions of our society. That includes the press, which covers the teenage rallies but, then, brings on its usual stable of adult commentators to explain what the students are trying to say.
Actually, it’s not hard to understand what the students are trying to say. They are pretty articulate.
But that’s the way movements build. They build in opposition to what already is and by what those of us in power assure them must always be. They lose battle after battle until they win the war.
You can tell the students are winning because their opponents are out in full force, claiming the students are actors, that they are in the pay of George Soros, that they are too young to have opinions and on and on. If you can stomach it, watch FOX News.
The students aren’t afraid, but their political opponents are.
That’s how movements are won.
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