HomeOpinionThe Complexity of Shifting the Gun Culture

The Complexity of Shifting the Gun Culture


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In the nine days since the mass murder of 17 students and adults at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, media coverage has gone from deciphering information about the shooter, to identifying the victims, to covering a rising activism among the next generation — the surviving students who are determined that their fallen brethrens’ lives will not be in vain.

But the undercurrent — a fast moving river upon which the kayak of discord is floating — has to do with reducing gun violence. The students and their followers want semi-automatic firearms banned, while Second Amendment supporters argue that a ban would have little impact on the many weapons already in circulation.

Is the rigidity of the National Rifle Association budging ever so slightly? Are we seeing a shift in the gun culture of this country, so rooted in the “Go West Young Man” spirit? It’s too early to tell, but it feels like change.

It’s time for Congress to recognize that Americans want to see movement in the direction of greater controls.

Gun rights advocates, such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (a Florida Republican and the reported recipient of National Rifle Association funds) are showing signs of moving from a rigid stance to one more amenable to gun control advocates. Rubio agreed to consider outlawing high capacity magazines, the add-on devices that feed bullets to semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

A search on Cabela’s website turned up magazines that hold up to 60 rounds for a semi-automatic weapon. In what setting anywhere in the U.S. would a civilian need a rapid fire gun that can shoot 60 rounds?

In Westford a proposed bylaw amendment in 2013 sought and failed to ban machine guns, assault and large capacity weapons, and large capacity feeding devices — a notion that was perhaps before its time. The members of the Westford Sportsmen’s Club and Second Amendment advocates turned out to demonstrate against it. The measure was withdrawn from the annual Town Meeting warrant that year and no ban exists to this day.

In addition to limiting the magazine rounds, Rubio is saying he supports raising the legal age of rifle purchases from age 18 to 21 and the creation of a gun violence restraining law that would give public safety officials and family members the authority to ask the court to take away a dangerous person’s guns.

Neither of these actions will prevent another mass shooting at school or anywhere, but they could save lives. Consider that if a shooter needs to stop and reload his magazine, the temporary lull could give a victim a chance to run to safety. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Meanwhile, President Trump is calling for armed teachers inside all schools. This is a quagmire. No matter how well trained a teacher might be in handling a weapon, he or she would not be at the same level as a trained, experienced  police officer. I’d like to see trained public safety professionals armed with appropriate weapons policing our schools with financial backing from the NRA. Our children are not targets. They need protection.

All this points to a complex problem that will not be resolved solely by banning semi-automatic rifles– although that’s a start. It’s time to change the culture. The cowboy mentality of shoot ‘em up, bang, bang to solve a problem must be  kneaded into a kinder, gentler America.

And that takes me to our beautiful, precious, fragile next generation some of whom have literally taken a bullet to preserve others’ right to bear arms. The next generation won’t stand for this culture and thank God for that. They will vote you out of office, Lawmakers. They will take charge and take over. The Parkland School students are leading the way to a better America.

Let us stand at attention, with hands to our hearts, and watch them go by.

Joyce Pellino Crane is the news director at Westford Community Access Television, a former contributor to the Boston Globe’s Opinion page, the holder of a license to carry a concealed weapon, and an advocate for ending gun violence.

CORRECTIONS: Sen. Marco Rubio is a Republican lawmaker. The students are seeking a ban of semi-automatic weapons. The word “machine” as a modifier to “gun” was eliminated. The School is named the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

CLARIFICATIONS: The 2013 Westford bylaw sought to ban machine guns, assault and large capacity weapons, and large capacity feeding devices. Rubio said he supports raising the age for purchasing a rifle from 18 to 21. Second Amendment advocates also opposed the proposed bylaw in Westford.