Through protest or elections: what’s the best way to change our gun laws?

A lot has been written about President Trump’s about-face on gun control, and the overall unwillingness of conservative lawmakers to commit to legislation that has any teeth. Maybe we should consider: can protests like the March of our Lives affect policy change? Or is the only way to get real adjustments through elections, where incumbents are tossed out for newcomers who align themselves with the wills of the voters?

Remember, the constitution says:

Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. 

You know the basic idea: in a democracy people have power over their government. And, protest is a way for people to show their collective will, to show their authority over their representatives.

It’s supposed to work that way in a democracy. But does it?

Let’s take a look.

Through protests like the March for Our Lives, we can change the way politicians vote.


After Marchers descended on Tallahassee to lobby for more state-driven gun control, Florida’s leaders said they support raising the minimum age for the purchase of all firearms to 21–in a state that is known for it’s protection of second amendment rights (to own firearms).


WalMart and Dicks Sporting Goods recently announced their plan to stop selling guns to buyers under age 21.

President Trump

Met with Marchers and promised to make a change in gun policy–starting a conversation that emboldened lawmakers in favor of a change and put gun rights advocates on notice. Trump said, “Unlike, for many years, where people sitting in my position did not take action, they didn’t take proper action, they took no action at all, we’re going to take action.”

state lawmakers across the country

At least 24 states are trying to pass bills that would allow courts to temporarily take guns from people designated as “dangerous.”

But that’s only part of the story.

The best way to affect a change in gun policy is through elections.

Despite the points made above, lawmakers have largely disregarded the protestors pleas for action since the Parkland shooting.

President Trump

President Trump promised the Marchers (and all Americans) he’d take action–by raising the minimum age for buying guns to 21 from 18, and by requiring background checks for guns bought at gun shows or on the internet–but he changed his mind, apparently after meeting with the National Rifle Association.


The Florida State House opened their session with a prayer for the 17 people killed in Parkland, then voted down an assault weapons ban. The vote was 36-71, largely along party lines.


Senate majority leader (Republican) Mitch McConnell told reporters that he had “no intention” of bringing a gun policy discussion to the Senate floor next week. Instead, he introduced a bill on banking.

President Trump has (ultimately) remained (somewhat) true to his original message of siding with the NRA

We voted someone into office to fight for us (even if you are not a part of “us” we assume a large amount—can’t even say majority, now can we—but nonetheless a large amount of people are “us” and the president is elected to represent their will.

So, what was our president’s will on gun rights (as he ran for office, and as “we” voted for him)?

Candidate Trump talked about expanding gun rights, also arguing that arming civilians could stop mass shootings. He called gun-free zones (like schools) a “catastrophe” and a “feeding frenzy for sick people.”

A lot has been written about Trump’s waffling on the issue, but his position on gun control largely remains the same. An example: During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump shot down the idea of arming teachers. “Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!” he tweeted.

Now, Trumps’s position on assault weapons resembles that which he ran on: he won’t support a ban.

EVEN THOUGH, according to a recent Politico poll, 68% of registered voters support stricter gun laws (25% oppose).

Politico also writes:

A CBS News poll found 65% of Americans in favor of stricter gun controls, which represents the highest number CBS News has ever recorded for stricter gun laws.

A CNN poll found 69% of Americans in favor of stricter gun control laws, which is the highest number since 1993.


Back to the News Made Simple article here.

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