John Patrick Grace: Florida Students, GOP Donors Urge Tighter Gun Control


Have the NRA and their clients, the nation's gun manufacturers, met their match? The smart money at this point might bet "Yes, they have," thanks to an ad-hoc alliance of fired-up survivors of the latest AR-15 massacre in Parkland, Florida, and major Republican donors such as Florida resident Al Hoffman Jr., who has said "Not another dime to the GOP" until Congress passes laws to tighten up gun control.

Google "Never Again" and you will find yourself plunged into calls for action by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, 40 miles northwest of Ft. Lauderdale.


That's where, on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, a beloved football coach, another male teacher and 15 teen-age students succumbed to the rapid-fire onslaught of an AR-15 held by a former student, Nicholas Cruz, 19. Fourteen other students wounded by the fusillade were hospitalized and are all expected to recover.

The shooting in the quiet "country-living" town of Parkland was the 18th episode of firearms violations in or near American schools just since Jan. 1, 2018. Two students were killed and 18 injured in one of those events in Marshall County in western Kentucky on Jan. 22.

Cruz was captured by a police patrol shortly after the massacre as his maroon shirt fit the shooter's description. He'd already stopped at a Walmart and a McDonald's and was simply strolling down a sidewalk in Parkland.

Stoneman Douglas students Emma Gonzalez, Chris Brady and others are heading up what they hope will be not only a nationwide, but also a worldwide, campaign to spur what they call "common sense gun control" reforms.

In tandem, Republican donor Hoffman has been reaching out "to every GOP donor in my Rolodex" to join him in withholding funds from all GOP candidates until they agree to champion legislation to restrict sales of semi-automatic and automatic weapons to civilians. They also want to universalize and improve background checks for all arms purchases nationally.

The National Rifle Association, otherwise known as "the gun lobby," had to this point resisted virtually any initiative to strengthen background checks or restrict sales of a particular weapon, ammo magazine or other gun-related devices, such as silencers, infra-red scopes, etc. At first blush after the Parkland killings, it does seem that NRA resistance will not stand up to the public furor and calls for change.

"We've received tons of support from students from throughout the USA and actually from all over the world," Parkland student Chris Brady told me in a brief phone interview last week. Under the banner of "The Never Again Movement," Brady and fellow student Gonzales and others are organizing a "March for Our Lives" in Washington, D.C., set for March 24.

"If you can't come to Washington, we're asking students to organize marches in their own cities and towns," Brady told me. He and other Stoneman Douglas students, he said, were "insanely busy" responding to media requests for interviews and queries from students and others about plans for action.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who's earned a Triple-A rating from the NRA, said plainly that "all options are on the table," in terms of new gun control measures. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, also a Republican and beneficiary of millions of dollars from the NRA over the years, similarly pronounced himself ready to consider bills to protect the public from mass killings by unstable gun-wielding individuals.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, announced he has formed a committee to look into expanding background checks "for any gun sale in the state of Ohio." Currently, in Ohio and elsewhere, guns sold in tents and buildings rented on a temporary basis, going under the moniker "Gun Show," escape the provision that regular retail gun shops must live by - four (or more) day waiting periods and background screening of each purchaser.

John Patrick Grace is a book editor and publisher in Huntington and a former Associated Press reporter, editor and foreign correspondent. He also teaches the Life Writing Class. His email is publishersplace@gmail.com.

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Source : http://www.herald-dispatch.com/opinion/john-patrick-grace-florida-students-gop-donors-urge-tighter-gun/article_5f98c06d-2065-58c3-840c-ab9db408a994.html

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