You want crowd size? Don’t look now, sir, but marchers more numerous than all the pink hats ever knit and more impressive than all those sharp-looking tanks rolling down the Champs on Bastille Day are headed your way. When America’s children march on Washington and in cities around the country next month, you who have refused to protect them from gun violence might want to take cover under a nice sturdy Resolute desk.
Or maybe instead of watching TV, as Nixon claimed to have done as somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 people marched outside his window against the war in Vietnam in November of 1969, you’ll slip off to a golf course where you can’t hear them at all.
No matter. Because even as you try to make the massacre of 17 Florida teenagers all about you, tweeting that “they are laughing their asses off in Moscow” — though yes, they are — and giving a big thumbs-up as you pose with first responders, you have to know that these particular demonstrators will be impossible to write off as partisans. To cast kids as “enemies of the people” wouldn’t fly. They’re not political adversaries looking for any excuse to erase the Second Amendment.
When no, they just want to get through their teen years without having to worry about being gunned down in the classroom or the school cafeteria. That little group of Teens for Gun Reform doing a “lie-in” outside the White House on Monday was just an advance party for the “March for Our Lives” demonstration that survivors of last week’s mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are organizing.
“People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control, and we can respect that,” Cameron Kasky, an 11th grader at Stoneman Douglas, said on ABC. “Here’s a time. March 24th in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives.”
That it’s come to that should humiliate every so-called leader who has blocked even the most modest reform. Congress has to pass some meaningful reforms, and President Donald Trump, whose spokeswoman said tepidly that he’s willing to join a conversation on strengthening background checks, is going to have to do a lot more than that.
These kids are over political parties before they’ve even had a chance to vote for one of them, and why wouldn’t they be? “This isn’t about the GOP,” Kasky said. “This isn’t about the Democrats. This is about the adults. We feel neglected and at this point, you’re either with us or against us.”
If shame doesn’t do the trick, fear might: Young people turned out to vote for Barack Obama and to rally for Bernie Sanders, but if NRA beneficiaries do nothing even now that kids are literally begging for the “right-to-life” that some of them talk so much about, they will turn out in November as never before.
Meanwhile, here in Missouri, third graders in Neosho are being sent door-to-door to sell raffle tickets for the same kind of gun that killed those Florida kids. Levi Patterson, the coach of the baseball team selling those tickets for an AR-15, has decided to stick with the raffle even after the deaths in Parkland. Wielding the usual banalities, he told The Star that “Evil has and will always exist. Our hearts break for those involved.” But in a few years, will those former 9-year-olds on his team still agree that hearts break, guns sell and nothing can change? My money is on the kids.