America – from lawmakers to police to citizens – had a cavalier attitude toward drunken driving.
Until 1980, when one mother had had enough after losing her daughter to a drunken driver. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers was launched.
When Candace Lightner lost her daughter, Cari, a country started to change.
More recently and in a different way to measure societal forces, change came to the Boy Scouts of America.
Long a venerable and powerful institution of America male youth, the national powerhouse clung to its traditions in regard to women and gays in its ranks and marched unaffected.
The Scouts won its court battles, but lost in public and ultimately, started to lose community support and sponsor dollars. Scouts changed.
Picking up on my theme from last week, people can change the wrong around them when leaders and leading institutions choose not to change. That looks to be where America’s gun debate is possibly headed.
The Florida shooting might be a Candace Lightner moment.
This week, due to Florida, companies including Delta, United Airlines, Hertz, First National Bank of Omaha, North American Van Lines, Symantec and MetLife have all ended discount programs with the National Rifle Association. Expect more in the coming days as a social media onslaught grows.
The NRA, in the eyes of gun-control advocates, is viewed as the Great Wall in America’s gun debate. Rallying members and money, the NRA’s leverage over lawmakers has often been scorned when changes in gun access laws have been pushed. Whatever changes eventually approved lose the teeth that many want to see happen.
What does America want to see since Florida?
A Quinnipiac University National Poll this week showed the highest support ever for stronger gun measures – 66 percent vs. 31 percent. In 2015, the support was flipped – 47 percent vs. 50 percent.
In Quinnipiac’s poll this week, gun owners weighed in at 50 - 44 percent in support for stronger measures.
I wrote last week that a drive equal to the #metoo movement would be needed. That appears to be happening.
Two weeks following the Florida tragedy, Florida is not going away.
Alvin Chang wrote a great story this week for Vox that showed that by this time in other shootings, America had generally moved on by measure of TV broadcast time.
Sandy Hook, Orlando nightclub, San Bernadino and Gabby Giffords shootings are measured in his chart. By this time in those tragedies, America had begun to move on.
Florida seems to be different.
Students, bolstered by help from a couple of national activist groups, have jumped into the media mainstream instead of retreating into their homes after the initial 72-hour media surge.
They have more action coming, with marches set for March 14 and March 24.
Youngstown and Boardman schools have signed up for the March 14 event.
#Enough and #neveragain are the next #metoo and #timesup.
It could happen.
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio appeared on a CNN town hall event about the shooting and ceded some positions on gun restrictions. The change prompted this wild headline from Vanity Fair: “Has Marco Rubio, Political Invertebrate, Finally Grown a Spine?”
It could be the time – like drunken driving finally had its time.
Alcohol did not kill the people involved in drunken-driving fatalities.
Neither did the bartender. Neither did the alcohol companies. Neither was it the officer who did not pull over the driver.
In each incident, it was the drunken drivers who caused the deaths; those people and those people only.
But, the person’s flaws in life had factors around them that eased their ability to do harm. And since MADD, all of the factors in drunken driving vigilance – police, bars, bartenders, alcohol companies – have come into play to make America’s roads more safe.
They all ceded ground and assumed roles in the fixes.
The Scouts ceded ground.
The same things appear to be happening with guns and the NRA.
It is the person pulling the trigger who is the problem.
But in filtering through that, we need to look at the tools available to the person that contribute to the mayhem on our streets, in our schools and in our workplaces.
Perhaps this time, we can have that change.
Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs, too, on Vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.