A great American tradition has been marred, ironically by a polar opposite event whose existence is also associated with the color red. Today February 14, 2019, Valentine’s Day, traditionally is a day of red when we celebrate life and love. Since February 14, 2018 it has become a day of red that we also must mourn death and hate.
On February 14, 2018, a gunman committed a school shooting, opening fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida, leaving the red blood stain of death and hate on a day traditionally devoted to life and love. The heinous school shooting killed seventeen students and staff members and injured seventeen others. The MSD School shooting was the deadliest school shooting in American history. It surpassed the Columbine High School shooting that took place on April 20, 1999. As we approach the one year anniversary of the historic school shooting, it’s a bloody reminder that Democrats must not waste their recent mid-term victorious win for control of the House on partisan investigation politics.
Since the MSD School shooting, there have been no new federal laws to address America’s school shooting phenomenon. President Trump responded to the deadly school shooting by releasing an executive order directing the Department of Justice to issue regulations to ban bump stocks, considering that the MSD gunman didn’t use a bump stock the executive order was just a half-step in the right direction.
Now that Democrats control the House that half-step could and should evolve to become the full step of new gun control legislation signed into law by President Trump. Democrats are off to a good start with the unveiling of their legislation to expand background checks to nearly all firearms purchases, including those sold at gun shows and over the internet. Since the legislation is limited to background checks only and not provisions such as a ban on assault rifles or high-capacity magazines, the likelihood that it can make it through the Republican-controlled Senate to President Trump’s desk for his signature is greatly increased.
Two additional factors greatly increase the likelihood that political consensus can be reached on this first step legislation to prevent school shootings. One, 90% of the American public believe that anyone purchasing a gun should be subject to a background check before they take possession of the gun. Two, the power and influence of the National Rifleman’s Association (NRA) is not what it used to be. 2018 made it clear that the NRA is losing its traditional control of the conversation on firearms in America because a new powerful voice has emerged.
The new powerful voice is Never Again MSD, an American student-led political action committee for gun control that advocates for tighter regulations to prevent gun violence. It was formed by a group of twenty MSD students that survived America’s deadliest school shooting, its main goal besides gun control is to dethrone the NRA as America’s King of gun policy. One of the group’s first initiatives was to start a social media campaign using the hashtag #BoycottNRA that called on corporate America to cut its financial ties to the NRA.
The hashtag quickly jumped to the top of the trending section, with concrete consequences: since then, Enterprise Holdings, Wyndham Hotel Group, security systems maker Simplisafe, LifeLock owner Symantec, and insurance giant MetLife have all cut ties with the organization. “Symantec has stopped its discount program with the National Rifle Association,” according to a company spokesperson, while a spokesman from MetLife said, “We value all our customers but have decided to end our discount program with the NRA.”
Delta and United, two of America’s largest airline passenger carriers, have both backed away from the group. Delta said in a statement it was “ending its contract for discounted rates through our group travel program,” and having its information removed from the group’s website. United said it would no longer discount flights to the NRA’s annual meeting. The popular boycott seemed to have reflected the sentiment of the NRA’s largest financial base of support, its dues-paying members. Membership dues fell from $163 million in 2016 to $128 million in 2017, a $35 million drop.
The best indicator of how effective the student-led Never Again MSD anti school shooting campaign is, and how ineffective the NRA is becoming is reflected in the 2018 campaign spending numbers. Federal Election Commission reports show that the NRA spent at least $54.4 million in 2016 to support and elect candidates against any form of gun control. In 2018 the NRA was only able to spend a total of $9.3 million while gun control advocate groups spent $11 million, it was the first time gun control advocate groups were able to outspend the NRA.
The NRA decline in spending meant that Republican incumbent Congresspersons like Virginia’s Barbara Comstock or Colorado’s Mike Coffman both of whom received A ratings from the NRA, got little to no financial support from the NRA leaving them vulnerable to the election day defeats as they both suffered. Several other Election Day loses of A-rated Congresspersons like Comstock and Coffman also occurred in 2018, meaning now there are many less no votes in the House for basic gun control legislation like mandatory background checks for all gun buyers anywhere anytime.
Democrats winning control of the House allows them to focus on legislation to prevent the next school shooting and focus less on investigating the wrongs of President Trump, which at this point even if conclusive evidence is found that he broke the law affects only his life and not the safety of America’s school children.
Valentine’s Day 2019 is not only a day to celebrate life and love, it’s a bloody reminder to Democrats that preventing the next school shooting, repairing Obamacare, restoring the Voting Rights Act, repairing America’s infrastructure and paying down America’s debt are all 1,000% more important to creating a healthy and prosperous life for all Americans, than investigating and finding any wrongdoing committed by President Trump!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at isaacnewtonfarris.com on February 14, 2019.