On May 14, 2000 the Million Mom’s March was held in the nation’s capital. The mom marchers demanded stricter gun control laws due to an alarming rate of “accidental child firearm murders.” The estimated attendance was 750,000.
There was a counter-rally, held the same day, by a group called Second Amendment Sisters. The Second Amendment Sisters and other gun rights advocates pointed out the inaccuracies in the data presented by the Million Mom organizers and accused them of exaggerating the numbers of “accidental child firearm deaths.” (Depending on how the statistics classified a “child” and what was considered “accidental” determined whether the death rate was high or low. The Million Moms used the highest figures and the gun rights advocates used the lowest.)
But which rallying cry was heeded by candidates during that election year?
A syndicated columnist said, “You can rail all you want against the NRA and timid politicians. But politicians aren’t fools and they respond to reality as they see it. Up to now, the NRA has out organized its enemies and energized a loyal and articulate constituency…In a democracy, organized power almost always beats unorganized power—even if, as the polls suggest, support for strong gun control regulation is widespread.”
Despite that statement the columnist remained optimistic and said, “The promise of the Million Moms is that they could organize into a countervailing force… The moms can win this one. A march is only a start.”
But the inability to sustain the momentum of the Million Mom’s March was obvious at its first anniversary; only 200 people returned to the nation’s capital.
Eighteen years later the Million Mom’s March had an offspring, the recent March for Our Lives held in Washington D.C. (March for Our Lives was considered one of the largest protest in American history.) This march was prompted by a premeditated high school shooting, not an accidental firearm death, and this march was initiated by the next wave of first-time voters, who refer to themselves as “America’s mass shooting generation.” This generation has stronger gun control demands than their predecessors, such as raising the age of gun ownership to 21.
In previous columns I mentioned Democratic Senate leader Charles Schumer instructed his colleagues to avoid the gun issue because gun rights advocates were single issue voters, better organized, and any mention of guns would hurt Democratic candidates during the midterms. (The exact same sentiment expressed by the syndicated columnist in 2000.) But once again there’s optimism that this “March for Our Lives” movement can mature, materialize, and mount serious opposition to the NRA.
This optimism is so strong that retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens issued a challenge to “America’s mass shooting generation.”
Stevens stated, in 2008, the Supreme Court overturned a long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. (Stevens dissented.) “That decision—which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly debatable—has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.” Stevens added, this dramatic action would move (The March for Our Lives movement) closer to their objective more than any other possible reform.
Repealing the Second Amendment is a challenge of a lifetime. Only time will tell, whether or not, this offspring resembles its mother.
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier. )
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