The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School may well go down in history as a "game changer" in the gun debate in the United States.
First of all, it took place in one of the best public high schools in the state of Florida, a school with over 3,000 students which every parent in Broward County, if not the state, would love their child to be in. From a parental point of view, the message was chilling. If their children weren't safe at Douglass, they weren't safe anywhere.
Secondly, for the first time, it mobilized STUDENTS as an independent force in the struggle for gun safety. The Douglass student body is not only brilliant and capable, it is diverse in a way that makes it a microcosm of the nation's young people. Almost immediately, students at the school responded to the catastrophe that befell them by organizing protests against the proliferation of assault weapons, demanding that policy makers do something to protect them. Their speeches and interviews were so eloquent that they immediately became figures on national media, not only giving a new and formidable face to the struggle for sane gun restrictions, but spawning plans for national student walk outs and marches on Washington. '
We now have a national movement for gun safety that large numbers of middle class and upper middle class people see as protecting THEIR children and families; and a group of brilliant new leaders who refuse to just be victims and are demanding that new state and national policies assure that nothing like this ever happens again.
I have been deeply moved by the speeches and comments of the of the brilliant young women and men of Margery Stoneman Douglass High Schools. about what needs to change in this country.
Though the NRA has ruled the debate thus far, they haven't faced young people this eloquent and determined, given strength by intolerable pain, fighting for their dead and wounded friends as well as their future.
We may have finally turned a corner and are ready to join the other advanced nations of the world in taking practical measures to assure school safety and reduce gun related deaths.