As I watched the protest marches last Saturday, I saw the future and felt comforted by what I saw. I saw the future political leaders of America. I saw future Congress people, Senators, future Governors, future Mayors, future state legislators and leaders at all levels. I did not see children. They weren’t wearing silly hats, their signs were not risqué, and they didn’t appear to be on a walk in the park. It was not a carnival as the NRA claims. Quite the contrary, I saw serious-minded young people articulating what they want—an end to gun violence, a ban on AR-15’s, a ban on bump stocks and stricter, more efficient background checks. They want to stop mass shootings. They called for voter registration and massive turn-out on election day. They urged politicians who are pawns of the NRA to get their resume’s ready because they would be voted out.
I ALSO saw a future without the National Rifle Association (NRA) as we know it today. It won’t happen over-night, but as it becomes taboo to be an NRA member, the membership rolls will shrink, and so will their power. By the time we Baby Boomers are gone and the Millinneals and Generation Z are in charge of our country, the NRA will be irrelevant.
AS I LOOKED at these millions of predominately high school students, not only in the USA, but all over the world, I knew I was witnessing the beginning of a movement. Having lived through the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War, I have to ask myself how this movement will evolve. The participants in that anti-war movement represented many different ideologies and eventually turned into an ugly mess. So ugly in fact, with so many bad actors, many people didn’t know whose side to be on. Today, the participants in the Enough is Enough movement are very focused on one issue and that is to stop gun violence and mass murders. You’re either “for it or agin it.” If you will allow yourself to believe the truth-- that you can still own your guns, just not assault weapons, this era will become history fast.
THE VIETNAM anti-war movement was predominately college students. Throughout this Enough is Enough movement, college students have been unusually quiet. After all, college campuses have had their fair share of massacres. In fact, it was just ten years ago when 32 were killed and 17 injured on the Virginia Tech Campus. I would like to see college students join forces with the high school students in an organized way to effect change. It’s going to take an enormous amount of people power to fight the President, all Republican lawmakers, and the NRA. That’s a tall order for high school students no matter how passionate and organized they are.
ALL THE things the Enough is Enough movement wants is a good start at preventing mass gun violence. That alone will not solve the problem. We must address the problem of mental illness! I’ve said it here before, ask anybody on the street where you can buy a gun and they will name no less than five places. Ask those same people where you can get help for mental illness for yourself or a loved one. All you get is a blank stare. Psychiatrists, counselors, and treatment facilities are very expensive. If you are fortunate enough to have insurance, few policies cover 100% of the cost. For those without insurance, there is little to no help, especially for in-patient treatment.
OBVIOUSLY, people who commit massacres are mentally ill. I believe anyone that commits gun violence is mentally ill. Therefore, to decrease gun violence, we must treat the root cause—mental illness. We may not identify every potential mass shooter, but at least with banning AR15’s and bump stocks, fewer people will die per attack. I feel so strongly about this issue, I would consider voting for a Republican for Governor if he made help for mental illness the center of his platform and promised to open more mental illness treatment facilities.
JUST GIVING you a heads up. My column will not appear in the April 4th edition. This time it’s my choice, and not that of the editor. George and I are taking a few days off to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. He’s taking me to one of those places where they cook the food in front of you. I can’t think of what it’s called. Oh yeah. The Waffle House.
HAVE A blessed Easter and I hope you make a memory.