The determination of the #NeverAgain students from that Parkland, FL high school where 17 people were slaughtered by a gunman with an AR-15 is having an impact both In Washington, DC and in gun retailing, much -- I am certain -- to the chagrin of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its followers.
The day began with an announcement by Dick's Sporting Goods' CEO Edward M. Stack that the company no longer will sell AR-15 assault-style weapons and that it will not sell any guns to anyone under age 21.
The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, bought a shotgun from a Dick’s store in November, Stack said on Good Morning America's broadcast this morning. And while that gun was not the one used in the shooting, Stack said it prompted his company to take action. It remains to be seen if other gun sellers will follow suit.
Dick's formal statement said "thoughts and prayers" are not enough and urged lawmakers to act:
That same message has been forcefully and emotionally driven home by Parkland students who, in the two weeks since the shooting, have met with President Trump and other government officials, lobbied the Florida state legislature, organized rallies and expertly launched a massive social media campaign centered around #NeverAgain.
Pundits are now saying their determination and eloquence, their refusal to take NO for an answer ("We call BS to that"), is moving the political needle on gun reform like never before.
It appears they are right.
Despite the continued vocal and virulent opposition from the NRA, Trump today urged Republican lawmakers to act on legislation strengthening background checks and to take other undefined steps to help prevent such slaughters.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the top GOP sponsor of legislation to extend background checks to a broader range of weapons, said today he is optimistic that Trump's support could help drive passage of that legislation.
Toomey made the comment following a White House meeting on gun control and school safety issues in which Trump supported universal background checks for gun purchases. Such checks are currently required for purchases from gun dealers, but not for purchase of weapons at gun shows or in private transactions -- although some gun show operators perform a quickie check that still allows purchasers to walk out that day with a weapon.
The Toomey legislation failed in 2013 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in the face of stiff NRA opposition.
In addition, Trump urged Republicans to set aside pending legislation that would expand the concealed carrying of firearms, telling lawmakers "You'll never get it passed."
The concealed carry provision is a "whole new ballgame", said Trump, adding that it should be in a separate bill. The House approved the bill late last year when it required states to recognize conceal-carry permits issued by other states. Some House Republicans oppose separating the two issues, as is likely in the Senate. Those bills are priorities of the NRA.
So the kids are having an impact. #NeverAgain is for real. Elections are only a few months away, and politicians have one major attribute in common regardless of political party: self-preservation. Angry voters scare the living s___t out of them.