ZU Magazine is a publication of ZU Media. The following is an article from Issue 5: Revolution.
ZU Magazine Copy Editor | Kendall Langrell
“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” — Malcolm Gladwell
After the Parkland school shooting on Feb. 14, a fire was lit in the hearts of Americans; debates were televised, school walkouts occured and marches were planned in hopes of bringing about stricter gun control regulations.
Young adults of this generation are no longer willing to accept what they perceive as the negligence of lawmakers. Many are rejecting “thoughts and prayers” and demanding actual policy changes.
According to Cambridge Dictionary, a tipping point is “the time at which a change or an effect cannot be stopped.”
Students and young people across America seem to be at their tipping point.
On March 24, students led hundreds of thousands in what was called, “The March for Our Lives.” The parent march took place in Washington D. C. with over 800 sibling marches throughout the United States and in major cities like Tokyo, Brisbane and Copenhagen.
Mother/daughter duo Stephanie Black and Lexi Underwood were among the protesters. Black was motivated to take part in the LA march by her 14-year-old daughter.
“It’s amazing to see how fearless this generation is regardless of what’s happening around us,” Black said. “I’m going to do my part just to make sure that my daughter understands that her voice matters.”
Underwood carried a hand-drawn sign that read, “We go to school to BETTER our futures not to END them #NEVERAGAIN,” accompanied with printouts of AR-15 rifles in circle-backslashes.
“If the White House won’t do anything, we have to. Our lives are in danger; it keeps being dismissed and treated like an everyday thing. It just needs to stop,” Underwood said.
Although these physical protests are impactful, protesters may not see the fruit of their labor right away. To have tangible change within a realistic timeline, it will take more than signs, marches and walkouts.
Good Luck America’s political analyst and reporter Peter Hamby interviewed Democratic Strategist Rodell Mollineau and Republican Strategist Danny Diaz prior to the marches. Both political analysts discussed the viability of meaningful gun legislation being passed in Washington before the November elections.
Their answers were a unanimous “no.”
“Policy only changes over time if politicians change, and politicians only change if public opinion changes,” Hamby said. Diaz added that anything as momentous as this takes time to achieve.
LA marcher Charlotte Riddle hoped that students wouldn’t forget about advocating for gun safety when they woke up the morning after the march.
“Keep remembering, keep going, keep using your voice,” she said. “It’s not just about this march, it starts today but it continues tomorrow.”
Demonstrators appeared to echo Riddle’s point; numerous signs at the LA March read, “it’s not a moment, it’s a movement.”
As history has shown, movements take time. Movements aren’t just crowded marches and televised debates. They’re meetings behind closed doors, they’re discussions between students and officials at a state capitol; they require dedication and, oftentimes, years to execute.
“These marches are incredibly symbolic events that capture the energy and the moment and bring people together with a common purpose … and goal,” Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech survivor, said. “I hope that these kids are able to remember that energy and that feeling.”
While there haven’t been any official, legal changes from Capitol Hill since the Parkland shooting, several states like Florida, Nebraska and South Dakota have already changed their laws. The companies L. L. Bean, Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI have also changed their gun-related policies.
For example, L. L. Bean and Dick’s Sporting Goods raised their minimum age for gun sales to 21. Dick’s Sporting Goods also stopped selling assault-style rifles like the AR-15. REI issued a statement that they would stop ordering Vista Outdoor brands like CamelBak because of their intentional silence following the Parkland shooting.
It doesn’t end there. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, at least 18 businesses have cut ties with the NRA — ending discount programs and other benefits offered to members.
According to a Feb. 27-28 poll by NPR that surveyed 1,005 adults chosen at random — 351 Democrats, 341 Republicans and 203 Independents — the number of Americans who want stricter gun policies overall is at 75 percent. This can be compared to a similar survey taken after the Las Vegas shooting, in which 68 percent were recorded as wanting stricter gun policies. The demand for change is rising.
The poll also measured public opinion on banning assault-style weapons, raising the legal age to buy a gun and adding those with mental illnesses to the federal gun background check system. Democrats and Republicans favored each of these with a majority.
While policy change may come as early as 2019, the steady changes made by states, companies and businesses show society could be at a tipping point.