The unspeakable tragedies of American gun violence regularly raise hopes that we can, at last, deal with this national cancer. And, just as regularly, these hopes are dashed.
The recent killing of seventeen souls — most of them students — at a Florida high school, and the angry, politically-focused response of many of the survivors, raise our hopes once again.
This time, there may be a slightly better chance for progress. These kids elicit powerful emotions. But they and their supporters need an organized political force, proven in battle, that could test an adversary as powerful and implacable as the NRA and its legion of American gun-owners.
Sadly, that force will not come from a political party. Certainly not from the Republicans and probably not from the Democrats. Politicians, understandably, follow before they lead and, so far, no force has come even remotely close to challenging the political influence of the NRA and its supporters.
Sensible gun policies need American women. For many decades, they have demonstrated the power of organization, most significantly voting rights, and, when political means have failed — the Equal Rights Amendment, for example — they have built on social activism and educational achievement to earn power and influence.
The Me Too movement has added an important element to women’s activist muscle, demonstrating that mass support can assuage individuals’ fears of retribution, and sexual menace and violence can be successfully challenged.
The menace and the violence that comes from guns is not that different. Behind a pinch in the ass or a lewd remark lies the serious possibility of rape. Behind a gun in the glove compartment or concealed under a jacket lies the serious possibility of death.
Most sexual predators are men. Most gun-owners, including NRA supporters, are men. Women are savvy enough to recognize that relative security from sexual predators means little if they, and their loved ones, might be victims of gun predators.
I’m not proposing a war of the sexes. But American men — already in free-fall, now reeling from the disgrace of icons of male power, and more divided than women over the gun issue — are simply not in a position to lead.
Men grieve just as profoundly as women at the loss of a child to gun violence. But there still is a symbolism in motherhood that would make an expanded Me Too movement, allied with the voices of the young, especially powerful.
There’s a name waiting for the movement. It’s at the top of the page. And I’m ready to follow.