Students take the lead

Will this time be different?

That’s the question, still unanswered, in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. Since then, the Parkland students have led a national uprising of their peers demanding stricter gun control laws.

It’s being compared to the student uprisings of 1968. But instead of college students protesting a war in Southeast Asia, these are high school students outraged that their classrooms are no longer safe in a society willing to countenance their deaths for the sake of unrestricted access to guns and assault rifles.

The students have been impressive in their organizing prowess. They pulled together the March 14 national school walkout and the March 24 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and other cities around the country. UFT President Michael Mulgrew, AFT President Randi Weingarten and countless public school educators are among those who marched with the students.

The Parkland students’ activism is starting to make corporate association with the NRA toxic. Discounts that once were available to NRA members — from Delta and United airlines to Avis and Hertz rental cars — have been discontinued. According to CNN, more than a dozen companies “ran away from the NRA.”

Not everyone is fleeing, of course. President Trump embraced the NRA idea of arming teachers. Not long after, an armed California teacher misfired his weapon in a classroom. No one was injured, but it was the punchline to a joke that no one found funny.

The Parkland students have been steadfast in staying above the intense partisanship that marks our civic discourse. The fact is that better gun laws will not be possible without legislators from both parties finding common ground.

Just as important, young people are not just marching; they are also registering to vote.

Will they succeed? We’re counting on it. And they can count on us.

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