Wagon train advocacy…what the heck is that?
Bear with me.
At a social gathering at my sister’s residence a few months out from the massacre at Columbine, one of her friends remarked if they heard one more word about Columbine they’d puke!
We were all talking about Columbine at the time.
The silence following that remark was deafening.
I wanted to use some pretty ‘choice’ words in response, but being the nice, kind, polite kind of guy I am (you’re just going to have to take my word for it), I restrained myself.
I said nothing. My glare pretty much conveyed what I was thinking though.
Given the devastation that Columbine had inflicted on my family, the repugnance of that person’s remark was not lost on any of us.
Needless to say I’ve had no contact with this person for many years. It’s likely that will never change.
So, where am I going with this?
In the months following the Columbine massacre media coverage was constant. So were the solicitations of advocacy groups that seemingly popped up out of nowhere.
Those groups came at us from every direction imaginable.
Some of these advocacy groups took advantage of the ‘notoriety’ of this incident. Media coverage did not help.
Most of these groups were legitimate. A few were not.
Most of these groups had noble aspirations. Some did not. In fact, some of these groups’ solicitations were pervasive.
After awhile, the sheer number of advocacy groups got to be more than a bit overwhelming for some folks…like the person I mentioned earlier, for example.
Some folks simply had had enough.
Given what’s going on in this day and age, I gotta ask has anything really changed since Columbine.
There’s been a significant up tick in the number of mass shootings.
Has anyone tallied the number of advocacy groups that correspond to each of those mass shootings?
Can’t answer? Neither can I.
From the February 15, 2018 issue of Westword:
“The Parkland incident was at least the 208th school shooting to take place in Columbine’s wake.”
So, we can answer how many school shootings there were between Columbine and Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD). But we can’t definitively answer how many advocacy groups formed in that same timeframe?
A few of the advocacy groups that sprang up following the MSD massacre:
- Fred Guttenberg’s Orange Ribbons for Jaime (his daughter, Jaime, was murdered).
- Andrew Pollack’s Americans for Children’s Lives and School Safety, or CLASS (his daughter, Meadow, was murdered).
- March For Our Lives.
- Stand With Parkland.
- Families vs. Assault Rifles.
Those are only a few that I could find….for one massacre…only one.
Following mass shooting incidents that gain national notoriety on some level, new groups form trying to raise funds to advocate for their cause. That’s a statement of fact.
Many of those groups couch their fundraising efforts in trying to make a difference in gun violence prevention and/or school safety. That’s a statement of fact, as well.
Many of those groups view their own efforts as ground-breaking. They’re not. In fact, they’re not the first to go down that road. Sadly, they won’t be the last.
That is not meant to disparage. Nor is it meant to discourage.
It is, however, a mistake on their part to try and go it alone in my humble opinion.
Many have no clue how difficult their mission(s) will be.
According to the executive director of Families vs. Assault Rifles, Matt Gohd, in this article from the Miami Herald:
“When we started, we just didn’t realize how crowded the space was.”
According to Gohd Families vs. Assault Rifles is currently “regrouping”.
That’s really too bad, but it isn’t the end of the world for them.
I’ve been saying for 19+ years post-Columbine that gun violence prevention and school safety advocacy groups need to stop going it alone following these massacres and band together.
Think of it like a wagon train wending its way through hostile territory and dangerous environments. Survival of the community of wagon train members relied on their support for each other. After all, there’s strength in numbers.
Wouldn’t that same principle apply if gun violence prevention and school safety advocates were to wagon train together and use it to their advantage?
Wagon trains – strength in numbers – stronger advocacy – it could work.
My two cents.
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