Living with America’s gruesome pattern of mass shootings is like being locked in a “house of horrors,” my colleague Gal Beckerman writes, with “a schoolroom of slaughtered children around every turn.” And yet, “as awful as it is to say, we’re learning with every killing,” he suggests. “We’re moving closer to the kind of movement that might actually make a difference.”
Sixty-three percent of Americans support an outright ban on assault weapons, but a lack of political will and a gridlocked Congress are preventing any progress toward new gun-control legislation. Moments like this one, “when the ideals of a critical mass clash with the rules that govern our collective lives, can … give rise to effective social movements,” Gal explains. But successful movements demand tough trade-offs—and the gun-reform effort is no exception.
Students should refuse to go back to school until Congress does something. “One thing we’ve learned from the pandemic is that when children aren’t in school, society strains,” Gal proposes. “This would make a strike an extremely powerful form of leverage. A walkout with enough students involved and taking place over days, not minutes, puts concrete pressure on officials, from the municipal level all the way up to Washington.”
The media shouldn’t turn away from the story of mass shootings—even when public interest wanes. “After a week or 10 days, the outraged public grows tired of hearing about the carnage, loss, and inaction. The audience starts to drop off. The ratings dip,” the former CNN Newsroom anchor Brooke Baldwin writes. Paying field crews is also expensive for networks. “But 19 children and two teachers? There is no higher cost than that.”
The Atlantic Daily Newsletter, Associate Editor Isabel Fattal, June 1, 2022