Parkland “survivors” David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Emma Gonzalez have been tearing up the airwaves, pressing a pro-gun control agenda just moments after a maniac killed 17 people at their high school. They’ve promoted school walkouts and Saturday’s March For Our Lives, all designed to pressure lawmakers into passing gun control measures they argue would stop the next school shooter.
However, there’s a problem with their efforts. Other than being wrongheaded, I mean. It seems they don’t necessarily represent their whole generation.
Many American high schoolers do not blame school shootings on guns and don’t argue the answer is tighter restrictions on firearms. It’s a view at odds with many of their classmates, yet born from the same safety concerns.
“There’s many things that go into a solution for this, and it’s not guns,” said Melanie Clark, an 18-year-old high school senior from Tallahassee. “We’re definitely in the minority for believing that it’s not guns.”
As gun-control advocates their age gain popularity and others cast their generation as anti-firearm, pro-gun students feel at times overlooked. But polling suggests young people aren’t overwhelmingly for gun control.
A USA TODAY/Ipsos poll taken after the Parkland shooting found fewer than half of students 13 to 17 think tightening gun laws and background checks would prevent mass shootings. The Pew Research Center, in an April 2017 poll, found 39% of people 18-29 said protecting gun rights is of chief importance. Compare that to 58% who favor gun control.
Pro-gun high school students told USA TODAY the school shooting problem is complex, but they maintain guns aren’t the problem. They say more can be done as it relates to school security, mental health and background checks. Some argue those calling for gun control are uninformed about and unfamiliar with firearms.
While it shows a majority supporting gun control, there are a couple of things to put in perspective.
For one, roughly 40 percent of Hogg’s generation disagrees with him on guns, which means his generation’s support for gun control isn’t quite the slam dunk he likes to present it as. Further, as the Parkland crowd’s rhetoric gets more and more radical, expect some of that remaining 60 percent to slip away as well.
It’s important to note that, right now, tensions are still high. The media has given a lot of attention to the pro-gun control arguments, and they’ve kept the flames fanned. But eventually, they’ll grow bored. They’ll find something else shiny to pay attention to and Parkland will fade from the front of the national debate.
When that happens, a lot of that 60 percent will also slip away. You see, a sizeable portion of that number is made up of people who aren’t committed to gun control. They’re in favor right now, but when things settle down a bit, they’ll rethink it.
Even if it doesn’t, however, it’s worth noting that not all of that 60 percent will see it as an issue worth choosing a candidate on. After all, while gun control advocates may look at a poll like this and argue that it’s proof of anything, they forget that a lot of people may support gun control, but not support countless other proposals from those candidates supporting it. As it’s not that important to them, they side with the pro-gun candidate instead.
In other words, despite media attention, the future for gun control looks as shaky as it has always been.