Support students against mass murderers, Russian bots and the NRA

 Support students against mass murderers, Russian bots and the NRA
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In my column Tuesday in The Hill, titled “On guns, students are leading the nation,” I compared the Parkland students and the national student movement they ignited to David battling Goliath on one of the great issues of our generation. 

Americans across the nation are inspired by the students who have emerged from indescribable carnage and tragedy to rally the nation behind the cause of preventing weapons that kill enemies in war from killing students in classrooms. 

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These courageous and wise students embody the height of Americanism. They stand for everything that is good and right about the American idea and American democracy. They are the sons and daughters, the brothers and sisters, of every American who cares about the future of our country. 

 

The students — and all of us who support them — are battling huge forces. They are battling mass murderers who have committed heinous crimes before and may, again, unless our leaders come to their senses and take the actions that should have been taken long ago. 

The students are battling Russian bots that immediately invaded social media to exploit the mass killing in Florida. It is nauseating to watch Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who continues his war against America (one about which U.S. intelligence leaders recently warned the Senate Intelligence Committee), employ a system of organized bots that now exploit the murderous attacks against the Florida students.

The students are battling the National Rifle Association, whose fierce opposition to gun control does not represent the views of many gun owners, who support stricter gun laws by a 50 to 44 percent margin, according to a recent poll by Quinnipiac.

Think about this: If that poll is correct (and there is no reason to believe it is not) on the matter of enacting stricter gun laws, then the students have more support from gun owners than the National Rifle Association has!

As the student movement galvanizes support across the nation, moving to state capitals to make its case, and prepares to march on Washington on March 24, these "Davids" have begun to score against the "Goliaths" that oppose them.

It is now likely that finally, belatedly, stronger background checks for potential gun owners will become law. It is now possible that a ban on “bump stocks,” which have enabled mass murderers to increase the number of victims they kill, could be approved.

It is encouraging that President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE has directed the Department of Justice to draft a ban on bump stocks, but like everything with Trump, his views could change in a heartbeat.

These actions alone, even if taken, are far from sufficient. But there is no doubt that revulsion against these continuing mass murders and the galvanizing power of the student movement have already begun to have a huge, positive impact on our national debate and the prospects for real action.

It was shameful to watch the Florida legislature vote down an assault weapons ban, but the fight in Florida has only begun. Citizens of Florida should remember the words of Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old junior from Margery Stoneman Douglas High School, who said after the vote that the legislators had a chance to help stop the killing and will bear responsibility if there is another mass shooting in Florida.

With support for gun control so high and rising, there is now an opportunity for the students and their supporters to take their case directly to voters in the many states that allow ballot initiatives. If this happens, in many and potentially most of those states, the majority of voters will speak and the students and their supporters will win.

The students and their supporters will march on Washington on March 24, with similar protests in states around the nation. Citizens can visit their website to support the cause and offer donations, as George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey among many others have recently done.

Later Wednesday, Trump will host a "listening" session to hear the views of students, teachers and parents. Hosts across CNN and MSNBC, in particular, have been generous to the students by giving them supportive, substantial air time to make their case to a national audience. 

CNN will offer the students a dramatic national platform during a two-hour town meeting tonight that will bring them together with political figures from both parties. The NRA has now agreed to participate in the town meeting, which could create an extraordinary moment for discussion and debate.

The students have ignited a national movement in 2018, as the Women’s March and #MeToo ignited a national movement in 2017.

"The times, they are a-changin’," as Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan once wrote and sang. Good, decent Americans from all walks of life are proud to stand with the students and women to bring the even-greater change that is coming.  

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.