What if

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I pulled the rest of this note out of the last one, as they are two really separate ideas. But:

I do wonder what would happen if Congress indeed passed two or three pieces of legislation this summer: making background checks universal, for instance, and prohibiting the sale and use of “bump stocks” and similar modifications, and perhaps prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines. If the Other Party agreed to support such legislation, would it dampen what looks like a possible midterm wave? And how would this marvelous generation of Young Persons react to such legislation being passed, when it would be inevitably followed by more firearms deaths, and another incident of a mass shooting in public? Would there be disillusionment, or further radicalization, or just resolution to keep going on the path? Not that I think such legislation is likely to pass in the next few months, alas. But if it did…

Look, I support legislation on the three proposals that were the nominal subject of the March, although I doubt that passing them would substantially reduce the frequency of firearms related deaths and injuries. I support all the proposals in the manifesto written by the editorial staff of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school newspaper, even if they aren’t the specific legislative changes I would prioritize, and even though I think that it’s dangerous to connect mental-health with firearms restrictions. The march and the rally, like all such large events, spilled over into other issues and the kind of tribal identification of us and them that simultaneously makes me uneasy and fills me with righteous fervor. But if you are wondering if I support those specific proposals being made into legislation, then yes, I do.

But when the signs and the chants and the speakers said not one more, I thought to myself that there is going to be one more. There are going to be many more.

A couple of years ago, I wondered whether a reasonable goal might be to reduce the thirty thousand Americans killed by gunshot wounds every year down to, perhaps, a single thousand. Which would still be a thousand Americans shot to death every fucking year, mind you. But I can imagine it. As a percentage of the population lost to firearms deaths annually, it would be, I believe, in line with other countries—the ones that aren’t at war, I mean. It’s a reach, the goal of only seeing a thousand of our fellow citizens shot to death every year. Three corpses a day, that’s not going to be easy to achieve. Not from our current ninety corpses a day, it isn’t.

And I do understand that not one more makes a much better placard than perhaps only twenty a week, on average. I do, really. And I surely hope we make the experiment of passing the legislation they demand and looking for further ways to reduce the butcher’s bill, and then find out how they respond. I just wonder what would happen if we did.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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