Editorial: Marches protest gun violence, but why now?

In Middlebury, about 400 protesters for stricter gun control legislation, joined another 2,500 protesters in Montpelier, and hundreds of thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago and more than 800 other places around the country and world in mass marches against gun violence.
It’s a movement started by students and led by students around the country — a grassroots protest that has turned into one of the largest political movements the country has seen since the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Why? What finally pushed the nation’s collective button to challenge the iron clad grip the gun lobby has held over members of Congress?
 Madison Knoop, a first-year student at Johnson State College and an organizer of Saturday’s event in Montpelier, reminded the passionate crowd why they were there: “We are here for common sense gun laws that keep people safe. We are here to support our youth who are fighting. We are here because gun violence is a public health issue. We are here because our Congress will not act.”
Those are four succinct and thoughtful reasons that are worth a moment’s reflection, particularly these two points:
• “Common sense gun laws that keep people safe.” That’s not a radical position. It does not violate the Second Amendment. Americans will still be allowed to own guns to defend themselves. Both sides should want to strive toward legislation that allows adequate gun ownership as well as common sense gun laws.
Vermont joined other states this past Friday in moving forward landmark gun control legislation (S.22) that would, if a final version is approved by the full Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Scott (something that is expected to happen in the coming days), go a long way to achieving some of the protesters’ goals.
• If Congress won’t do what’s in the best interest of the nation, then the people need to boot them out of office and elect representatives that will. The political battle cry the NRA has used for years (Remember in November) could well be turned on its head if the 66 percent of Americans who are clamoring for more gun control show up to vote in November.
Just imagine if this is the issue that generates a whole generation of younger voters to actually show up and vote, and to focus their political activism against those Republicans in competitive races across the country. Now that’s a fear that would truly cause stomach-churning anxiety among politicians who have blindly heeded the NRA’s every command.
And while Knoop succinctly summed up why hundreds of thousands of marcher met Saturday in common cause, there were also the touchstone comments of many others, including the 7-year-old girl in Washington who stood in front of the podium to simply proclaim she was tired of hiding in dark closets in her school room during active shooter drills. It’s scary, she said, of being squished together with too many other classmates in the dark closet, imagining a shooter was roaming the halls with an AR-15 loaded to kill as many students as possible.
She just wants all the guns, she said, to go away.
Gun owners must take those comments to heart. Our current gun laws are not only not working, they are hurting our children in ways we don’t yet fully comprehend.
Gun owners might also want to question the gun lobby’s nonsense about the only way to fight gun violence is by arming more people with more weapons, which, as one protester’s sign said, is what the gun merchant says when he’s trying to sell more guns.
To counter such bunk, as yourself one question: If more guns were going to make society safer, then why hasn’t that happened? It hasn’t because the facts show that more guns create more violence, not less. What’s needed is for gun owners to stop repeating the gun lobby’s false myths.
Such claims have always been a bunch of bull, and it’s time gun owners demand more straight talking from an industry that has played them for fools for far too long, and used far too many pandering congressmen as lapdogs.
Angelo Lynn

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