By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The shooting that broke out in mid-March at the Parkland student complex in the state of Florida, which killed 17 students and teachers, was greeted in the United States with a sense of fatalism that that the public was destined to become familiar with. While still howling ambulances with their cargo of bodies and survivors in the direction of the hospitals, the authorities of the country, the state and those of the center itself began to make clear their prayers and laments, expressing their deep regret and anguish for what had happened.
A few voices rose to condemn the facts without venturing to blame anyone or anything for the horrible crime. Paul Ryan, a Republican leader in the U.S. Congress and second in the line of presidential succession (after the vice president), warned against unthinking, overly sentimental reactions.
But, surprisingly, something strange happened: the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Pre-University in a gathering that they called to that effect, came out against official inaction.
“Every single person here today, all these people, must have been grieving in their homes. But, on the contrary, we are here today united, because if all our government and our president can do is let us know their sorrow and their prayers, we think it is time for the victims to be the motivation for the changes we need to see,” said student Emma Gonzalez in tears and sobs on behalf of everyone.
“To the politicians who remain in their golden seats in the House and Senate, funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) telling us that nothing could be done to prevent that we call B.S.,” the student leader said.
The broadcast of her speech was cut off, but that last sentence of Emma’s words became the slogan calling for gun control that would lead the plans for an upcoming national student strike and march on Washington.
A substantial article by George Zornick, editor of The Nation, argues that the power of the NRA as a protective shield for the freedom to buy and sell arms in the United States is rapidly being demystified.
As proof, Zornick says that last November in Virginia, the NRA backed Ed Gillespie as a Republican candidate for governor and he was widely defeated. It supported 13 candidates competing fiercely for seats in the state House of Representatives and 12 of them failed, while the other won by a narrow margin.
At the Virginia state level, gun control advocates have been able to obtain the passage of resolutions and measures that have not been passed by the state legislature, although it should be noted that this occurred when the movement was not as strong as it was after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 when the largest pro-arms control groups were formed.
It should also be noted that Democratic politicians, until recently, never spoke out against gun control for fear of the NRA’s wealthy congressional lobby.
“For the characteristics of our ossified political system, and especially with Trump in the White House thanking the NRA for the $30 million it donated to his campaign, the United States will never pass gun control legislation. But while waiting for the time to elect a new congress and a new president, something can be done considering that arms manufacturers value above all other things, even more than human life: money,” Zornick says.
The journalist from The Nation calls on activists to help deal a decisive blow to these traffickers by withdrawing financial or commercial support from their companies until the arms industry becomes an unviable business. In 2013, the California State Teachers’ Retirement Fund voted to divest itself of millions of dollars in gun industry investments.. The same was done in 2016 by the New York City Public Employees Pension Fund, which also withdrew funds from other large sporting goods stores that deal in arms.
Today, the arms giants are full of debt and face a decline in consumer demand. Centers such as GoodbyeGunStocks.com have been set up to inform about stockholding entities that trade in arms to guide activists eager to boycott those who do so.
The relentless shootings that kill innocents have filled the cup of resistance of the American citizenry. Its assimilation capacity is running out and if that giant rises it would not be unusual for the arms business to be forced to start a countdown sooner rather than later in the United States and around the world.
May 31, 2018.