In the aftermath of the horrific Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the debate over ways to effectively address gun violence to some degree involves weighing security versus liberty. Against this backdrop, the hope is that reasonable people can find common ground in implementing reforms. Partisan politics seem also to be playing a role, however.
Although there are obviously areas of disagreement, President Trump and legislators from both sides of the aisle have floated ideas such as strengthening the background check system (which often contains incomplete information that allows bad actors to slip through), preventing gun purchases for those under 21, banning bump stocks, arming teachers who have voluntarily undergone training and where permitted by school boards, temporary restraining orders that might allow authorities to confiscate weapons immediately, and other measures. Some have proposed removing so-called assault rifles from the marketplace completely.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has also unveiled a school safety plan that includes stationing a cop in every public school and imposing restrictions on the ability of those deemed mentally ill from buying or possessing firearms.
Controversy has surrounded whether the recent CNN televised town hall on gun violence was or wasn't scripted in a way that pushed a gun control, anti-National-Rifle-Association agenda and otherwise politicized a horrible tragedy. Fair or unfair, similar criticism has been leveled at student activists who have been featured prominently in the media before, during, and after the town hall criticizing the NRA and mostly Republican pro-Second Amendment politicians.
As widely reported, however, the Broward County Sheriff's Department and the FBI received multiple warnings about the shooter prior to February 14 but failed to take action. Moreover, one or more deputies on the scene stayed outside the school and failed to confront the Parkland gunman.
"The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting prompted backlash from some students and gun control advocates against the National Rifle Association and gun industry for being 'complicit,'" the Washington Free Beacon summarized.
That said, the Miami Herald reports that under existing laws, the shooter's "troubling behavior gave law enforcement plenty of opportunities to investigate and arrest him -- and even take away his guns -- long before he shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School...according to interviews with former South Florida prosecutors and legal experts."
Going forward, BuzzFeed News indicates that the grassroots #NeverAgain movement that arose from the Parkland shooting is now getting big-time support with its messaging and outreach from liberal, Democrat-aligned groups with an identified gun control agenda.
"Several large progressive organizations, donors, and a high-powered public relations firm are backing the March for Our Lives movement, which is quickly evolving from a student-run social media effort to end gun violence into one backed by some of the most influential activists in the country. In the days after the shooting in Parkland...the teenage survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were impossible to ignore. They blanketed cable news coverage, built a massive following on social media, and began to organize a rally in the country's capital in support of gun reform....Since then, major players and organizations — including Everytown, Giffords, Move On, Planned Parenthood, and the Women's March LA — told BuzzFeed News they are helping the students with logistics, strategy, and planning for next month's March for Our Lives rally and beyond."
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, told BuzzFeed that she has advised the students on "communication strategy."
The March for Our Lives event is scheduled for March 24 in Washington, D.C., and other cities. An official from the Los Angeles Women's March, which was generally an anti-Trump protest, is helping the student activists obtain a permit for the D.C. march, BuzzFeed added.
USA Today reports that the Michael-Bloomberg-funded Moms Demand Action gun control group has launched a new initiative, Students Demand Action, to press for firearms reforms.
The support from the high-profile groups also has a political component, USA Today similarly asserted.
"But, alongside those [student grassroots] efforts, well-financed national groups are working to provide logistical and financial support to help turn that outrage into a sustained effort to rein in access to the nation's deadliest guns. They also are hoping to transform that teen anger into votes that could shape November's midterm elections for Congress."The students recently traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with several Democratic politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as Paul Ryan, the GOP Speaker of the House.
Some Hollywood movers and shakers have also contributed large amounts of cash to back the #NeverAgain movement and the upcoming march. Critics of this kind of funding have insisted that some studios and stars have profited greatly from producing films and TV shows featuring excessive gunplay and other forms of violence.
"With $3.5 million suddenly at their disposal, this core group of roughly 20 teenagers — still grieving the loss of 17 classmates and school mentors — has enough money to fund a a national march and a revolution. They're now beginning to consider the long-game: a lasting movement to keep the pressure on pro-gun politicians and the National Rifle Association," the Miami Herald observed.
TMZ claims that given their celebrity status, at least two of the students "have been in talks with publishers for book deals. The deals haven't been inked... the students are in the meeting phase with book honchos," for gun control tomes.
"We're also told that some of the students have been getting help from high-profile publicists to field requests and schedule media appearances. A lot of these kids have been all over the news lately, so it'd make sense they're not handling all these bookings solo," TMZ added.
Other forms of activism that are apparently on the horizon from the allied groups are school walkouts on March 14 and April 20 and a voter registration drive in districts represented by Republicans who have received NRA campaign contributions.
Added: One Parkland student has already signed a mass email from the Democratic National Committee urging people to vote for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, the Daily Caller reported.