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Trump and the GOP won't act on gun control. So we must.

Eugene Robinson on

WASHINGTON -- They won't do anything meaningful about guns until you force them to with your votes.

This time, following the Parkland massacre, does feel different from all the other times. But I fear the outcome will always be the same -- thoughts, prayers, furrowed brows and no real action -- until the Republicans who control Congress and so many state legislatures start losing elections because of their obstinacy on gun control.

They need to fear you and me more than they fear the National Rifle Association.

No amount of moral suasion will work. The slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, the murder of 58 innocent country music fans in Las Vegas, the near-fatal shooting of one of their own, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. -- no atrocity has been senseless or vile enough to shame the GOP into doing something to keep military-style assault weapons out of killers' hands. Why should the deadly rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School be the tipping point?

Optimists might point to two wild-card factors we've never seen before: the fierce eloquence of the young Parkland survivors and the inconstancy of President Trump.

The students' activism began immediately, nullifying the customary first move in the GOP-NRA playbook, which is to solemnly pronounce that it is "too soon" after an act of unspeakable horror to even mention the instruments of that horror. Anyone who tries to open a debate on gun control is accused of politicizing tragedy.

"This is not the time," Republicans say, fully intending to make sure that the time never comes.

In Parkland, though, the voices quickly calling for action on guns were those of students who hours earlier had seen their classmates mowed down by a troubled young man with an AR-15 -- students who could easily have been victims themselves. No one could question their right to speak.

And they did not mince words. The issue, they made clear, was the gun.

A 19-year-old known to acquaintances and authorities as disturbed and potentially violent had been able to buy a powerful weapon designed to rip human bodies to shreds on the battlefield. Practically anyone can walk into a gun shop and buy such a weapon. As long as we make such instruments of mass destruction so available, what on earth do we expect?

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