More than 40 students from across Wisconsin embarked on a four-day, 50-mile march from Madison to Janesville, the home town of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), where they are expected to hold a rally Wednesday. Their goal? To call out Ryan for his “lead role in blocking and burying any chance of gun reform again and again,” according to the group’s website.
Beyond that, the students hope to show Ryan — and politicians nationwide — that although Saturday’s March for Our Lives events are over, this generation of empowered young people is not going anywhere.
“We’re picking up where so many marches left off,” Katie Eder, an 18-year-old organizer of the Wisconsin march, called 50 Miles More, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
In the 1960s, the young protesters fighting injustice were told they were “too ambitious,” that achieving equality for African Americans would be impossible, Eder said while speaking to a crowd at a March for Our Lives event in Milwaukee.
“Now in 2018 we’ve reached a period in time where we, the young people of this country, are being told that ending gun violence in the U.S. is impossible, our dreams are too big and we don’t know what were talking about,” Eder said. “But I stand here today to say to all of you that now is the time to do the impossible.”
The organizers, students at Shorewood High School near Milwaukee, said they came up with the idea for the march after seeing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students leading a nationwide movement against gun violence. The Wisconsin students wanted to find a way to directly call out politicians within their own state. Ryan was the obvious choice.
And I love this:
“Hey hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today?” they chanted during their first mile. They held signs showing phrases such as “you pick guns, I pick my future” and carried a banner with the words “protect kids, not guns.” Accompanied by parents, the students walked down sidewalks and bike trails, and were occasionally escorted along busy roads by law enforcement. They listened to the “Hamilton” soundtrack, shared stories from their respective high schools and waved at people passing by. They stopped for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and spent Sunday night sleeping on a high school gym floor in Dane County, near Madison.
Now that’s how you repurpose an old chant!
It’s also worth noting just how moderate and minor the reforms being demanded by our nation’s students are:
The students plan to demand a ban on all military-style weapons and all accessories that turn semiautomatic weapons into automatic weapons, such as bump stocks. They are calling for a four-day waiting period on all gun purchases, required background checks on all gun sales, and for raising the legal purchasing age of all guns to 21.
At best, this would help on the margins in terms of stopping more horrible shootings. Even if all these ideas were implemented and enforced effectively, there are so many high-powered guns around today that if someone wants to shoot up a building, they will have plenty of available guns to do so. We need something along the lines of Australia’s gun law to protect ourselves and that’s not even on the table.
This is why I like John Paul Stevens’ call to repeal the Second Amendment. As I said yesterday, of course it’s not going to happen. But in facing a bunch of fanatics who have made a fetish out of the Second Amendment and taken a maximumalist position on it, milquetoast and moderate proposals aren’t going to cut it. The lunatics will see a ban on bump stocks as an attack on their American rights. The more politically savvy way to handle this is to call for what we really need–a direct attack on the nation’s gun culture through its fetish. I understand that Heller could be overturned with the right Supreme Court justices. And it’s not that Ian Millhiser is wrong exactly when he says Stevens isn’t helping because the real problem is the decline of American democratic institutions. But I don’t think Millhiser is helping either. In terms of advancing progressive policy, proposals around the margins aren’t going to appeal to the masses. I just don’t see the downside of attacking the Second Amendment itself. Trump and Fox News going ballistic is nothing but the same noise they always give.
And yes, I would like the government to go into your homes and take your guns. What I want is exactly what NRA extremists fear. It is what I call for as policy. That includes repealing the Second Amendment. I don’t care if it’s not going to happen tomorrow–or ever. It still stakes out new positions on the issue that will attract some people and lead to a far left flank on guns that really doesn’t exist today. What’s the downside of that?