Monday, March 05, 2018


It may seem as if the survivors of the Parkland massacre have completely changed the national conversation on guns -- but then you look at what state legislatures in red America have done since that mass shooting and you realize that in the red states, nothing has changed:
* On February 15, the day after the Parkland shooting, Idaho lawmakers introduced a bill to strengthen the state’s “stand your ground” law to the floor. The measure would expand the definition of justifiable homicide to include not merely defending a shooter’s home but his or her vehicle or place of employment, as well. On Monday, the bill passed the majority-Republican Senate after a vote along party lines.

* A South Dakota bill exempts private schools and churches from a law that made it illegal to carry guns on school grounds. The bill, introduced in January, passed the House on the day of the Parkland shooting, then the Senate on Thursday.

* On Tuesday, the West Virginia House passed, by 85-14, an NRA-backed bill forcing private businesses to allow employees and visitors to keep firearms in cars parked on private property. Twenty-two states have similar “parking lot” laws. West Virginia lawmakers rejected amendments that would have made exceptions for chemical plants and churches.

* In Indiana, Rep. Jim Lucas filed an amendment this week to expand an existing bill aimed at letting Hoosiers take guns into schools and churches. Citing Parkland, Lucas says the bill now needs to be broadened to guarantee a right to carry on all state-owned property. “We just need to eliminate gun-free zones,” Lucas said according to the Indianapolis Star.

* On Wednesday, Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican, introduced a bill to let people carry guns in airports, with a special provision that bars local governments from passing their own gun regulations. It is next scheduled for consideration on Tuesday, March 6.
It's quite likely that 2018 gubernatorial and legislative elections will turn a number of purple states blue, while reducing Republican majorities in red states. The #NeverAgain movement might be a big motivator for Democratic voters, second only to disgust with President Trump.

But even if that happens, there'll still be blood-red states all over America that will continue to follow the NRA's lead. Even in the most optimistic scenario that's plausible -- suburban moderates join liberals in their distaste for the NRA, newly elected Democrats change gun laws in more and more states, and eventually NRA aggression is stopped at the federal level -- there'll still be a large number of states that approach guns the way the South in the Jim Crow era approached racial equality. The right-wing culture war will continue to take place in these states.

If Democrats could make unexpected inroads in some of these states while unabashedly opposing the NRA, then we'd be talking about a truly game-changing national movement. For now, though, it's a movement that's bypassing large parts of the country, or stirring up a backlash in those places.

The Parkland kids have done a great job. Unfortunately, they're only changing part of America.

No comments: