On February 14, we received word of another mass shooting. This one at a high school in Florida. The story dominated the news for a few days and looked like it was going to go away.
The affected students had other plans though. Using the power of social media, they built a movement that has already made some concrete results. Several businesses have dropped support for the National Rifle Association, and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it will stop selling modern sporting rifles, commonly called assault rifles. My hope is that these students keep it up going into the election, but realize that they are in for quite a slog, as groups like Mom’s Demand Action and CeaseFirePA can attest.
This shooting and it’s aftermath have me doing some thinking of my own. Much of it from the responses I have seen on social media. Many responses from my classmates have me wondering how I was able to avoid the authoritarian “WhiteLash” that may have helped to elect Trump. I have some ideas on that, and I plan to explore those on this blog. The posts from non-alumni that have adopted authoritarian thinking are to be expected, and dismissed.
What concerns me is that many of my fellow activists seem to be rejecting what seem to me to be common sense reforms. I do not see myself as “anti-gun”, the absolutists that seem to make up the NRA base may disagree with me, but I see no issue with a person having a gun for sport, hunting or personal protection.
But I also don’t see why a domestic abuser, which to me would also include child abuse, a felon, or a person with a mental illness should be able to possess a gun. I also see little utility in weapons like an AR-15.
I think some of this may have to do with the fact that since Trump’s election, I have gotten a bit more involved with some folks who may be farther to the left than I. I am in contact with Democratic Socialists, anti-authoritarians and anarchists, Maoists and various other radicals. These folks may see armed rebellion as not only necessary, but inevitable.
Many believe any reforms will affect communities of color the most. This makes sense as a logical consequence of the criminalization of poverty and of color. I have to say that enough people of color purchasing and licensing firearms would likely prompt Trump, with the backing of the NRA–again, to pass some sort of modern “Mulford Act”. Find some way to limit the ability of people of color to possess and use firearms.
There’s also the argument to disarm the police as well. This makes a bit of sense, a sort of “mutual disarmament”. But what of the vigilante like the Oath Keeper or “Proud Boy”? This is where even I would that the ability to fight fire with fire may be a good idea. Why couldn’t a few activists, likely from the “black bloc”, be trained in firearms. I would decline as I don’t think I have the temperament for such a duty.
One final thing is that I may need to realize that I am looking at this issue, like many issues, through a lens of privilege. Figuring out how to see past that lens is a task I may not be able to do on my own.