OPINION: What I learned at the “March for Our Lives”

OPINION: What I learned at the “March for Our Lives”

Rich Lowry, the nationally syndicated columnist whose writings appear on this page from time to time, tried to insult me with his piece that appeared in the R-J on March 29. Of course, I wasn’t named specifically, but he did accuse me nevertheless. You see, I was one of a small group from Wallingford who went to Washington, D.C., for the “March for Our Lives” on March 24. Mr. Lowry thinks those who supported that event were under-informed and the marchers were teenage demagogues, who by reason of their youth had no right to have an opinion on gun violence. I hope kids across the country read Mr. Lowry’s patronizing column.

I went to Washington not only to support the students’ march but also to witness a moment in time when, hopefully, the pendulum of extreme gun promotion having reached its high point, is now tipping back toward responsible gun ownership and safety - a position the NRA once stood for. If the marchers in Washington can contribute to that shift by challenging the inaction of politicians, Rich Lowry and everybody else owe them thanks. Americans shouldn’t surrender without a fight to the inevitability of gun violence. That was what the march was about.

This is not a new position for me. On December 30, 2012, my column “Stand up to the NRA” appeared on this page. I argued then that the debate over gun violence can’t be resolved by ceding the initiative to extremists who believe they have a right to possess any sort of gun anywhere at any time. Rather, the focus should be on what we can do about gun violence rather than on what we can’t do. America’s youth sense this. That may be what terrorizes Mr. Lowry. He saw them marching together with their parents, teachers, and supporters in and from all parts of the country. They were chanting, “Vote them out.” Maybe Mr. Lowry fears their vote, and is worried that he’s on the wrong side of history. Let’s hope.

Before the march started, we were in the hotel elevator with a family from Alabama. The march came up in polite chit-chat. Hoo boy, I thought. Red state Alabama. But surprise! The family was there to march, too. I mentally rejoiced — even Alabama is on board. Later, though, we were on the same elevator with another family. The march came up again. This time the father grumbled that the march was a waste of time. Although many think that way, thankfully the students don’t, and Mr. Lowry notwithstanding, they should not be ridiculed for being tough on defeatists and obstructionists.

After we got back to Connecticut, my thoughts were still with the marchers in Washington as I caught up on my reading. A recent edition of The Economist magazine, one of the best, previewed the march and listed some broad practical principles that should be acceptable to state legislative bodies and are consistent with the Second Amendment. Here’s a synopsis:

1. Increase scrutiny of gun buyers. Almost all Americans support broad, universal background checks for all gun purchasers. Most, even most gun owners, support licensing laws which deter straw purchases, and put teeth into requirements that gun owners have had safety training and have had their backgrounds checked.

2. Enact “red-flag” and “extreme risk protection order” laws such as Connecticut’s law. These allow police to petition the courts to remove guns temporarily from those thought to pose a risk.

3. Tighten rules on gun storage. In Israel, if you have your gun stolen, you could be in trouble with the law. But in the U.S., failing to store guns safely generally has no consequence. That should change.

So, Mr. Lowry, I know you disrespect people like me and the students we supported, but what’s so objectionable about these proposals? More to the point, why can’t you back them, too?

Mike Brodinsky is a former Wallingford town councilor and host of the “Citizen Mike” public-access television show.