Starting a movement, motivated by energy, anger and youth, isn’t that difficult. Keeping it going when momentum flags is harder. The young people from Parkland, Fla., and their supporters fighting for reasonable gun control must commit themselves for the long haul, understanding that it’s not going to be a battle lightly fought or easily won.
Four days after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting rampage, some survivors banded together to name their movement Never Again. Their goal is to win approval for some common-sense gun regulations, including stricter background checks for gun owners. They called a nationwide protest for March 24.
The Parkland students are part of what has been tagged the “mass shooting generation.” They were born around the time of the 1999 Columbine High School attack in Colorado, in which 12 students and one teacher were killed, and have listened to the reverberations of mass shootings throughout their young lives.
They have reason to become activists and are not easily intimidated, even when the National Rifle Association bears down on them with its massive political machinery.
But they must know that the road ahead is arduous. The limelight will not always shine on them and their cause, no matter how righteous. They saw that last week when Republican legislators in Florida rejected their call for an assault-weapons ban.
When the media attention dies down and the nation’s attention wanes, that’s when their real dedication to the cause will show. It’s about garnering votes. It’s hard work, involving fundraising and door-to-door campaigning. That’s when real leadership and commitment is tested.