A Mass Student Strike Could Force Gun Legislation

A national strike could provide the 'hard power' that forces political change
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 6:54 PM CDT
Updated May 31, 2022 7:33 PM CDT
A Mass Student Strike Could Force Gun Legislation
   (Getty - tiero)

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde: these are some of the place names that will forever invoke images of horror and grief. We’ve been here before, faced with the familiar “misalignment” between political will and public consensus, according to Gal Beckerman, senior editor for the Atlantic, who argues that the time may be right for a mass, student-led social movement. "Most of us are unwilling to bear this American ritual any longer," Beckerman writes, citing polls showing roughly two-thirds of Americans favor stricter gun control. His suggestion: "The children and parents of our country need to take the summer to organize locally, build a set of national demands, and then refuse to go back to school in the fall until Congress does something."

Beckerman says the two key ingredients of a successful social movement are at hand. First comes a compelling narrative "that brings people along to a new way of thinking and emboldens them to act." The second involves tactics—the "hard work of mustering actual political power." Attempts by the "Parkland kids" and others to stage walkouts were moving, but they didn’t move the needle. Still, writes Beckerman, they "point to a tactic that, used more aggressively, could genuinely get under the skin of some grown-ups," especially if it disrupts society. As the pandemic showed, if kids don’t go to school, parents can't go to work, and politicians catch grief. Beckerman admits a mass, multiday strike would not be an easy path, but "successful movements always demand difficult trade-offs." (Read more gun control stories.)

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