And the young shall lead
When little movement occurred to change gun laws following the 2012 slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it was easy to become cynical about the idea that the country would ever budge from its strong pro-gun posture. If the murder of 20 six- and seven-year-olds doesn’t shake the country’s conscience, went the thinking, nothing will.
But something has. In the weeks since 17 people were killed at a Florida high school, a new force has emerged calling on political leaders to put new curbs on guns in a country that is home to about 5 percent of the world’s population but about 40 percent of its guns.
That new presence in the gun debate was on full display yesterday as high schools across the country walked out of classrooms to call for stricter gun laws. Several hundred students descended on the State House in Boston — though for many it was not, strictly speaking, a school walkout, as lots of districts were closed for a second day following Tuesday’s snowstorm.
Some of the walkouts across the country were poignant because they took place at schools and in communities that have become grimly synonymous with the gun mayhem being protested.
While the country’s focus has been on the tragedy of mass school shootings, those actually constitute outliers in the toll taken each year by firearms. Handgun killings in American cities, which have become little more than background noise meriting short news briefs, account for the bulk of the gun carnage that claimed more than 33,000 lives in 2013.
That was the focus of attention yesterday in Springfield, where students and religious leaders gathered at the gates of Smith & Wesson, one of the country’s biggest gun makers, whose product line includes the gun used last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “I come home every day and hope that my family is safe and hope that gun violence has not taken them away from me,” Hussein Abdi, a student at Springfield Central High School, told the Globe’s Nestor Ramos about the violence-prone neighborhood where he lives.
A group of high school students from Chicago recently met with students from Stoneman Douglas High, an encouraging sign of the effort to join the movement prompted by school shootings with broader efforts to address urban gun violence.
Herald columnist Michael Graham mocked the students at the Boston protest for some of their chants and for the zealousness of those calling for repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. He belittled those who characterized the NRA as an extremist organization. That may not fairly describe all its members, but one wonders whether Graham has taken in speeches given by the group’s wild-eyed president, who said following the Florida killings that gun control efforts are part of a “socialist agenda.”
What’s more, why mock the youthful exuberance of youth rather than the fact that they’re becoming involved in public policy debates at a time when many lament low voter turnout and civic engagement among young people?
Unlike surviving first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary, students at the latest site of a mass school shooting are old enough to voice a call for change — yet perhaps also young enough to have the idealism to think they can actually make it happen.
State Rep. Diana DiZoglio says the same House leaders now putting forward new proposals to deal with sexual harassment claims tried to quiet her when she complained about harassment seven years ago. (Boston Globe)
Gov. Charlie Baker says he isn’t concerned the feds will crack down on the state’s legal marijuana industry and says most other governors aren’t worried either. (State House News)
No one testified yesterday at a hearing on a bill to create an independent commission to oversee sexual harassment complaints on Beacon Hill, leading one of the bill cosponsors, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, to speculate that the absence of testimony was a function of fear of reprisals — though neither Eldridge nor fellow cosponsor Sen. Barabara L’Italien spoke on the bill, either, with both saying they were at gun control events connected to student walkouts. (Boston Herald)
A compromise could be brewing in the Beacon Hill battle over a 1971 law that ties beer makers to a wholesaler once they have worked together for six months. (Boston Globe)
The MBTA is set to begin construction of a new bridge over the tracks in Quincy Center and Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch wants to name it “Generals Bridge” in honor of four military generals from the City of Presidents. (Patriot Ledger)
Municipal snow removal budgets were another victim of the latest storm. (Standard-Times)
Thousands of students walk out of school in a nationwide gun violence protest. (Washington Post) Students in Massachusetts marched to the State House. (Boston Globe) Also in Massachusetts, the Gun Owners Action League sent an email to its members urging them to take video of the student walkouts with an eye for people pushing an anti-civil rights agenda. (Eagle-Tribune)
A teacher’s gun accidentally goes off in a public safety class in Seaside, California, during a classroom demonstration. (New York Times)
New documents indicate a second lawyer with ties to President Trump participated in the effort to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels. (Associated Press)
Trump told a fundraiser audience he made up a claim about trade imbalance without knowing if it was true (it wasn’t) when speaking with Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Washington Post)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Elizabeth Warren helped birth is getting eviscerated by the Trump administration, writes Dante Ramos. (Boston Globe)
Democrat Conor Lamb’s narrow House victory in a Pennsylvania district Donald Trump carried by 20 points suggests big trouble for Republicans in this fall’s midterm election. (Boston Globe) Lamb’s win is also a victory for Seth Moulton, the Bay State congressman who went all-in for the fellow former Marine, says Joe Battenfeld. (Boston Herald) Republicans are eyeing a recount as well as a challenge because of what they say were “voting irregularities.” (U.S. News & World Report)
Beth Lindstrom says she is the only “real Republican” running for the US Senate in the wake of reports that Rep. Geoff Diehl had been a registered Democrat before he arrived on Beacon Hill in 2011. (State House News)
Rachael Rollins, a former federal prosecutor who also served as general counsel to Massport, the MBTA and MassDOT, jumps into the Democratic primary race to succeed Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley. (CommonWealth)
A Herald editorial decries complaints that Airbnb listing prices go up for rentals during the Boston Marathon weekend, saying there is “no constitutional right to cheap lodging.”
The state’s unemployment rate increased in the latest jobs report but went up nearly 3 percent to 8.2 percent in Fall River, with other urban areas and the Cape showing the highest levels of joblessness. (Herald News)
Nonprofit fundraisers fear charities will take a hit in the wake of Facebook changing its algorithm to favor posts from friends and family. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
Elizabeth Holmes loses control of her company, Theranos, and is required to pay a $500,000 fine to settle charges that she oversaw a “massive fraud.” (Associated Press)
Toys R Us is closing all 800 of its remaining stores in the United States and Canada and eliminating as many as 33,000 jobs, the victim of box stores and online shopping. But one toymaker says he is interested in buying at least half the stores and keeping the iconic retailer’s name. (Washington Post)
Saying the region is at a standstill, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce calls for dedicated user fees to finance investments in roads and public transit. (CommonWealth)
The Lowell Regional Transit Authority is proposing to raise fares 25 percent, the first hike in 16 years. Officials say the increase is needed to cope with rising expenses and static state funding. (Lowell Sun)
A Dorchester Reporter editorial laments the attention suddenly being given to a Seaport gondola proposal — “dangling like a snow-globe proposal above our heads — while backers of rapid service on the Fairmount Indigo commuter rail line running through Dorchester and Mattapan struggle for notice. Globe columnist Shirley Leung says there are lots of unanswered questions about the gondola scheme. How do we know the gondola idea and what will only become more pointed criticism of it have become a thing? A parody gondola Twitter account.
It’s late, by his standards, but the Keller@Large says get the snow off your car before driving, dammit.
Physicist Lee Phillips says the US shouldn’t be investing in fusion research when renewables, particularly solar power, are the way to go. (Eagle-Tribune) His thumbs down on fusion follows MIT’s big thumbs up for the science and promise of fusion. (CommonWealth)
Rising sea levels are threatening the historic centuries-old monuments on Easter Island in the South Pacific. (New York Times)
Some Northborough residents say they were blindsided by town officials who put a proposal on the Town Meeting warrant to ban both medical and recreational marijuana sales. (MetroWest Daily News)
Prosecutors told a judge that a former Kingston man arrested in North Carolina for the 1986 murder of 13-year-old Tracy Gilpin, the sister of now-State Police head Kerry Gilpin, has admitted to killing the teen. (Patriot Ledger)
A federal judge said he’ll rule quickly on prosecutors’ request that he reconsider his planned jury instructions in the corruption trial of two Boston City Hall aides, parameters that the government has said would potentially destroy their case. (Boston Globe)
A federal judge ruled that a challenge to Attorney General Maura Healey’s 2016 directive on “copy cat” assault weapons can proceed, finding that the plaintiffs’ complaint “is sufficient to establish a plausible claim that the Attorney General’s actions have deprived the Plaintiffs of property without due process.” (Boston Herald)
A judge has ordered the Attorney General’s office to release to prosecutors a confidential document that contradicts grand jury testimony in the case of a Hyannis man accused of murder. (Cape Cod Times)
MEDIAFormer Globe and Boston Phoenix media critic Mark Jurkowitz praises fellow ex-Phoenix media writer Dan Kennedy’s new book on the business moguls who now own the Globe and the Washington Post. (Boston Globe)
The Denver Post is laying off 30 employees. (Westword)