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Fecteau: An Inspiring March Against Gun Violence

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

 

March for Our Lives PHOTO: Gregory Varnum/flickr

It was inspiring witnessing hundreds of thousands of young people from more than 800 cities across the United States demand an end to gun violence. With chants of “Enough is enough!” and “Never Again,” these protestors sent a stunning message that they will no longer be silent in the wake of such tragic mass shootings.

It was also remarkable watching people from such widely varying backgrounds come together to make our country safer. They were coming together to rally against a political system that failed them and a legal system that encourages the kind of firearms ownership that could potentially kill them. They made it clear that pro-gun advocates will no longer have a monopoly on activism and political power.

This has been going on for simply too long. Lobbyists and corporate interest groups have hijacked our political system. The gun lobby, far more interested in lining its pockets with money from gun manufacturers than keeping our children safe, has dominated the conversation around guns for far too long. The majority of Americans who support common-sense gun safety laws have stood by complicity as pro-gun radicals have dominated the conversation. Our legislators have even eroded the basic protections that would reduce the likelihood of many of these mass killings from occurring – most notoriously letting the assault weapons ban expire

We already know many of the solutions to gun violence. Even something as simple as universal background checks would go far to protect innocent lives. As of right now, only federally licensed dealers have to perform background checks when they sell guns. If an individual is unlicensed, he or she faces no such prerequisite. It’s a bizarre system that only requires the most responsible gun dealers to conduct background checks while exempting the kind of fly-by-night sellers who would be most likely to sell deadly weapons to a mentally disturbed individual.

This is known as the ‘gun show loophole.’ It probably should be called the private seller loophole because the sale doesn’t actually need to be at a gun show. Universal background checks would require all sellers – licensed or unlicensed – to conduct a background check when they sell a firearm.

Many of the young people who marched this weekend are not yet able to vote, but that will soon change this coming midterm election. Soon enough, many of the young people will be able to hold politicians accountable at the ballot box. Their legislators have now been put on notice that they need to do something about gun violence or be voted out of office.

I hope the March for Our Lives will change the political dynamics that leave many of us complicit in the next mass shooting. It is tragic that after all the mass shootings our country has experienced and all the lives lost due to gun violence, adults have failed so dearly.

Let’s keep marching ‘for our lives’ into the future and into the voting booth, if not the chants, rallies, and solidarity are meaningless to the entrenched political establishment. These demonstrations are inspiring to me, and prove that it is still possible for Americans to come together and demand politicians take action – no matter what the gun lobby has to say about it.

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an Iraq War veteran.

 

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