Now that the momentum appears to be building for a new federal gun law, my Gun-control Nation friends will no doubt get busy trying to figure out: a) what would be the best law to try and get passed; and b) how to go about getting it passed. The GOP has suddenly begun warming up to the idea of a ‘red flag’ law because such a measure would basically hand the gun-control problem over to the cops, which means that the NRA-toadies on the right side of the aisle can say support ‘common-sense’ gun laws and Blue Lives Matter at the same time.
Last year the Parkland kids spearheaded an event, March For Our Lives, which brought as many as 2 million people to DC and may have been one of the largest, mass protests of all time. Which was exactly the problem with the event, namely, that it was a protest against gun violence rather than a guide to what needed to get done.
Want to know how to figure out what could or might get done? My advice is to heed the experiences and words of a woman who, when a definitive history of gun control finally appears, deserves to be considered as the Susan B. Anthony of the gun-control movement (we’ll make Shannon Watts the Elizabeth Cady Stanton), a.k.a., Donna Dees Thomases, who put together the first, national gun-control event in 2000 known as the Million Mom March.
Donna got going after she saw a news report about a shooting in a Jewish Community Center in California which wounded two adults and three children, although luckily nobody was killed. I want to pause my narrative for a moment and give a big shout-out to two women, Donna Finkelstein and Loren Lieb, whose children were wounded in the attack and who remain active in the local Brady chapter to this day. I just sent a contribution to Brady in their names and I urge you to do the same. Now back to Donna.
Last year following March for our Lives, Donna published a piece in which she uses her own activist experiences of the past two decades to state both some concerns and hopes for what Gun-control Nation might possibly achieve. Her biggest concern, and I share this with her in spades, is that the gun-control movement continues to be splintered into a multiplicity of groups which makes the whole issue of branding difficult to achieve. And in the age of instant media known as the internet, branding is not only essential, but it’s particularly important when you go up against Gun-nut Nation that gathers just about everyone under one brand – the NRA – which has been around for more than 140 years.
Now the fact that the NRA is at the moment having problems keeping its brand from coming apart at the seams shouldn’t lull any gun-control activist into some kind of dream-like fantasy that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ is about to dry up and go away. The boys in Fairfax will wait until things quiet down, they’ll give Wayne-o and his team a graceful good-bye, and back they’ll come to continue the rhetorical shoot-out over gun ‘rights.’
Donna’s concern about the plethora of organizational efforts on the gun-control side is balanced by the fact that between herself, Shannon, Sarah Brady and others, women have played a leading role in the gun-control fight. And she makes a point of the fact that one of the strengths of Moms Demand Action is the red t-shirt which is easily identifiable at public events. Just imagine what it would look like if a million people showed up for another gun-control rally on the Mall and everyone was wearing the same shirt (hint, hint.)
Last but not least, and here I couldn’t agree more with what Donna says, which is that nothing happens overnight. Advocacy is always a long, difficult and often frustrating struggle so be forewarned and prepared. On the other hand, who ever said that important issues like human life don’t deserve a serious fight?
And you can also read an interview I gave yesterday about the attempt to put an assault-weapon ban on the 2020 Florida ballot – another tough, long fight.