When I first saw and heard the students of Parkland, Florida express their determination to end gun violence in the schools, I was more hopeful that, this time, the outcome would be different.
This time, we had young, articulate veterans of violence whose experience of terror, trauma, and painful loss in their school would sharpen the focus for many of the rest of us who, for a long time, despite repeated mass killings, have recognized the need for substantial change in our gun laws. In brief, the students say, "Never again!"
Most of those friends with whom I have shared this newfound hope that the NRA had now met its most credible opposition yet, did not generally share my optimism about changing gun laws. They cited the historic ability of the NRA to hold their unwavering gun positions, even in the face of unspeakable tragedies, when buttressed by Congressional supporters, especially those supporters who have received enormous donations from the gun owners and gun manufacturers via the NRA.
Some of my friends said, "Not yet," as if to say that more incidents of mass killings will be required to politically neutralize, or soften, the power of the gun lobby. My brother, when he heard my opinion that the NRA could be facing its Waterloo, dismissed me as a dreamer.
Congressional inaction, however, when combined with the political distractions coming from the White House, have given me a renewed sense of optimism about the ultimate outcome of this long struggle. We all recognize that Congresspersons who are committed to stay in their seats must come home and campaign this fall. Those senators and representatives who have received NRA donations will be quizzed closely at many campaign events by young, articulate voices about their legislators' response to the horrible loss of 17 lives and nearly as many injured in Parkland.
This issue for this year's mid-term election has the potential, I believe, to become a major turning point in the gun debate in this country.
Two further considerations: First, the NRA will certainly recognize the need to pour more donations into the campaign funds of vulnerable gun-rights supporting incumbents. However this response of the NRA also has a clear potential to backfire because it readily provides even more ammunition for opponents to use in challenging incumbents who rely on the donations of the NRA.
The second concern is the very tragic prospect that one or more incidents of mass killings will occur while we gun- control advocates are waiting until fall for the congressional changeover and a new agenda. Such events will, of course, further demonstrate the notorious inability of the current Congress to do much of anything about gun violence as well as the many other pressing needs of this country.
House Speaker Paul Ryan clearly recognizes that he must get something done in the House about guns for the sake of retaining his speakership. But, thus far, we have found that he views his primary role and duty as that of blocking virtually all legislative proposals (except cuts of taxes and social programs), from coming to the House floor.
Representative Ryan's lack of courageous leadership, even to help himself, is still one more reason for my renewed hope that this time, this fall, the outcome of the gun debate will have a different outcome.
David E. Loberg