Mass Shootings, Race, and Political Hand-Wringing over Gun Control | WYPR

Mass Shootings, Race, and Political Hand-Wringing over Gun Control

Feb 26, 2018

Credit Photo courtesy: Flickr

In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, there was predictable and familiar outrage, but also, an eerily comfortable ease with which, as a nation, we processed this tragedy.  There have been more than 50 mass shootings and attempted mass shootings in US schools since the Columbine massacre in 1999. 

Students from across the country have organized protests and walkouts.  They have taken to social media and TV, crowded into State Houses, and confronted lawmakers in nationally televised town hall.  Has this movement, led by young survivors of gun violence, flipped the script on our national discourse about gun law reform?  

In 2013, however, after the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, when student protesters who called themselves Dream Defenders met with Governor Rick Scott, he did not change his position on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws one bit.  One of the things that is clearly different about the debate this week, animated by young people, and the young people who protested five years ago:  the race of the protesters. 

The positions taken by both sides today have a familiar look: some advocate for re-instating the assault weapons ban and strengthening background checks; while others propose arming teachers and “hardening” schools as targets. 

The question many asked after children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school were massacred in Connecticut five years ago is the same one being asked now: is this moment different? 

We are joined by Tammatha Woodhouse, Principal of Excel Academy in West Baltimore, where seven students have been violently killed within the last 15 months.   Later on in the program,  we are joined by Julie Bykowicz, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Firmin DeBrabander, a scholar from MICA  and author of the book “Do Guns Make Us Free?  Democracy and the Armed Society.”