Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Can an Anti-Gun Youth Voting Surge Save Us in 2020?

To drive a car, one needs to take both a written test and a test behind the wheel.  Once licensed, at varies periods one has to renew the license and your car must be registered every year.  To practice law or many other professions, one needs to be licensed annually and typically must take a minimum amount of continuing education. Yet, in most states, one can buy a military style assault weapon capable of rapidly killing significant numbers of people without any license or even a background check. Why?  Because of (i) a twisted reading of the 2nd Amendment, and (ii) the lobbying influence of the NRA, a front organization funded by gun manufacturers - and as we learned in 2016, even foreign interests. Meanwhile, mass shootings are on the rise and one literally cannot feel fully safe anywhere. Now, the survivors of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting are pushing for both common sense gun control and a voter registration effort that could wreak havoc on Republicans who prostitute themselves to the NRA and perhaps end the misrule of Donald Trump.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at their effort.  Here are article highlights:

The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland, Fla., are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections.
The students are speaking out for the first time since 31 people were killed in one weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. They hope their plan — unveiled Wednesday morning — will be considered by President Trump as well as his Democratic presidential rivals and will serve as a catalyst for a surge of youth voters next year.
“You see these shootings on TV every day and very little happening around it. It’s painful to watch. And I think it’s been really hard for me and many of the other students and people that we work with to find hope in this time. . . . “But I think that this plan is something that we can truly — as a country and as Americans united against violence and fighting for peace — can get behind.”
March for Our Lives has been focused on voter registration and outreach across the country over the past year and a half, building a national infrastructure with more than 100 chapters centered on grass-roots organizing. They hope to turn that into droves of voters at the polls next year.
Called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America,” the ambitious platform, which was obtained by The Washington Post, goes much further than the current debate over universal background checks and “red flag” laws, which would apply to people who could be a danger to themselves and others.
 The Peace Plan would create a national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a “national director of gun violence prevention” who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.
 It calls for a “multi-step” gun licensing system, overseen by a federal agency, that would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before gun purchases are approved. The license would be renewed annually.
 The Peace Plan takes a holistic approach to gun violence by also calling for automatic voter registration when those eligible turn 18, along with the creation of a “Safety Corps,” which the authors compare to a Peace Corps for gun violence prevention. The plan also proposes community-based solutions like mental health services, as well as programs to address and prevent suicide, domestic violence and urban violence.
 The issue of gun violence has recently become a much more dominant concern for the 2020 presidential candidates. Raw emotions have hit many of them as they have met advocates from Moms Demand Action and other groups whose members have been affected by gun violence.
 “My hope is that they focus like a laser on youth turnout,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said of March for Our Lives’s 2020 efforts, after reviewing the proposal. “The election is over the minute young people decide to turn out. The only reason that Trump would get reelected is if young people stay home. The issue of gun violence is one of the only issues that truly motivate young people to shake off their indifference and aversion to voting.”
Democrats, who in the past would at least nod toward gun owners and do photo ops while hunting, are embracing gun control with greater urgency than they have in any election in recent memory, a sign that they are sensing movement among voters. . . . . nearly 70 percent of registered voters said gun policy was “very important” to them, ranking the issue ahead of taxes and immigration, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
March for Our Lives is calling for a mandatory buyback of all assault weapons and a voluntary buyback of handguns and other firearms.
NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter, commenting on the plan, said: “The gun-control community is finally being marginally honest about their true wish list. The simple fact remains their proposals and ideas are out of the mainstream, and most people will understand their real intent goes beyond what they publicly state.”
Hogg called the NRA “the big tobacco of violence in the U.S.” and claimed that “they don’t care about gun owners, like my father.” “The NRA cares as much about gun owners’ safety as the tobacco industry cared about smokers not getting cancer,” Hogg said.
Hogg is 100% correct in his assessment of the NRA.

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