Professor David Pettinicchio asks if Parkland will really be a turning point in US gun control policy

February 23, 2018 by Sherri Klassen

Professor David Pettinicchio recently authored a blog post for the site Mobilizing Ideas exploring the possibility that the response to the Parkland massacre might be a turning point in the politics of gun control in the United States. Pettinicchio explains that, while the response to this school shooting has been marked by a new and powerful student mobilization, the task of changing both policy and the American political culture surrounding guns is considerable.

Professor Pettinicchio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. He has research interests in social movements, policy change and political elites. Mobilizing Ideas is a blog originating in the the Center for the Study of Social Movements in the University of Notre Dame. The blog features academics and activists discussing social movements and social change. We have included an excerpt of the blog post below. The full article is available here.

Another “Turning Point Myth” in the Political Battle over Gun Control?

David Pettinicchio, February 23, 2018

Parkland is increasingly portrayed as the mass shooting that will finally change things, but are pro-gun supporters right to claim that it is but another headline that gun control advocates are allegedly peddling will bring stricter gun control laws?

Following the Orlando massacre of 2016, there was some hope that hearts and minds, the culture around guns, would finally change in turn facilitating significant policy reforms. In a Washington Post op-ed,  Jennifer Carlson and I noted that for the first time in a string of tragic mass shootings, the LGBTQ2 community –  no stranger to political mobilization – was brought into the gun debate. It’s a constituency with the political know-how and resources, experienced in challenging existing cultural and institutional arrangements. Following our op-ed, we received comments like “Dear NRA, we made it through Stonewall, AIDS, DADT, and through Marriage Equality. You’re next.”

But, the obstacles, at least as we saw them, had less to do with the LGBTQ2 community fighting against the NRA per se – an organization with very deep pockets and strong ties to policymakers. Instead, as I noted in my 2016 Mobilizing Ideas follow-up, the ability of the gay and lesbian rights movement to fight against gun culture lies in its experience transforming what it means to “do politics” in America. That is, they helped redefine American culture. The NRA is a worthy opponent not only because of its political influence, but because of the cultural change it helped foster around guns and identity.

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