It's been a month since the Florida shootings. What's changed?
Posted March 14, 2018 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2018 3:01 a.m. EDT
(CNN) — On Wednesday, students across the country walked out of their classrooms to reflect on the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one month ago -- and to renew the call for further strictures on gun purchases.
The protests were covered extensively on cable TV. At the gathering outside the Capitol building, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, spoke.
The walkout was a precursor to a series of rallies planned in the nation's capitol -- and around the country -- later this month.
It also functions as a moment to reflect on the last month in terms of what lawmakers have done and not done on guns.
The story at the state level is very different than that at the federal level.
Earlier this month, Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure that bans bump stocks, raises the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 and allocates more money for arming teachers. The NRA immediately sued, alleging that raising the minimum age to buy a firearm violated individuals' constitutional right to bear arms.
In Congress, there has been no serious attempt to reform gun laws to date. President Donald Trump laid out his own basic principles on guns Sunday night, proposals that included "hardening" schools and enforcing more stringently the background check laws already on the books. Trump's plan notably did not include raising the age at which you can buy a gun, which he had suggested was something he supported following the Parkland, Florida shooting.
That pattern of action at the state level and inaction at the federal level hues closely to what happened ion the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings in late 2012. Connecticut toughened its gun control laws while proposals to make changes to national gun laws collapsed in the Senate.
The reality is that the closer you are to the actual mass casualty event, the more it will feel urgent in your own life. The longer it will stay on your local news. The more pressure your community will put on lawmakers to make changes.
No matter how your community reacts to a mass shooting -- and no matter how well spoken your high school kids are -- the national attention span simply moves on. Holding the nation's attention -- and, therefore, making it possible for Congress to feel like they HAVE to do something, is damn near impossible.
The Point: Changes in gun laws after mass shootings is almost certain to come from the state and local level first (if at all). If past is prologue, it simply will not come at the federal level -- no matter how many lives are lost or how urgent the pleas for action may be.