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Be encouraged by these young people raising their voices in the wake of the latest mass shooting.

They represent more than their obvious commitment to change. Their generation has grown up in this environment of ever-increasing mass shootings in schools, on college campuses, in churches and public arenas such as a country music concert, movie theaters and more.

They want action and they might just get it.

With too-fresh memories of the Parkland, Fla., massacre of 17 classmates and adults, the survivors spoke up about their experience and called out the president, members of Congress and others for their continuing inaction on common-sense gun laws.

This week, they headed 100-strong to Tallahassee to urge Florida lawmakers to act, to do something to change the laws, to protect them and others.

More young people, some with the same kind of horrific experiences in their own lives and others who've practiced active-shooter drills, have joined them. They've taken their protests to the White House and to other places of power. And they're just beginning.

They will be demonstrating around the country next month in a "March for Our Lives" on March 24. Some will walk out of classes in protest nationwide on March 14.

"Never again" is the cry behind their activism. Never again should school children and school personnel fear for their lives because someone can too easily acquire a weapon of mass destruction.

In this case, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is accused of taking 17 lives in a matter of minutes. He has reportedly confessed that he opened up on students and faculty with an assault-style weapon he purchased legally as an 18-year-old, despite the teen's troubling past.

Within days of the shooting, while burying friends and classmates, surviving students rallied behind the Never Again movement and began pressing for stricter background checks of gun buyers.

There are the usual claims that no law could have prevented this young man or any other determined shooter from carrying out such an attack. But, as one of Parkland's students said, they're "calling BS" to such claims. They want action, change in the laws and, if necessary, change in the lawmakers, especially those in the pockets of the National Rifle Association.

American youth, fed up with the failures of the adults to address their safety in school and elsewhere, are marshaling their peers by the thousands.

Can they make a difference?

Maybe. Something certainly feels different about this rally behind the innocent victims of gun violence.

They alone might not be able to bring about the change they want. But they are not alone.

If ever there were an opportunity for people with similar end goals to coalesce for change, this may be it.

The upcoming mid-term elections provide not just a possibility but a probability that there will be new voices coming to the U.S. Congress.

The question is who will get those seats and who will they serve?

First, consider the ever-growing number of announcements of congressional retirements. One after another Republican incumbent, even incumbents in powerful positions, are announcing they won't seek re-election.

Like-minded lawmakers might replace them. But don't count on it. Many of these retirements are happening because the current officeholders know, or suspect, they won't like what's coming.

Why might they feel that way? Might control of the House or the Senate, or both, change?

Again, think about the potential for coalescing interests to push that agenda.

Put these school-aged leaders, some already eligible to vote and others who soon will be, on the list. Add their parents and extended family members to the supportive voting bloc for candidates willing to rewrite gun laws. Then multiply that number by all those who have experienced gun violence and felt, until now perhaps, defeated by the gun lobby and other interests controlling Congress.

Add to that the people who have been demanding that America's Dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, be allowed to stay and pursue full citizenship. Lawmakers who've failed to protect them may be held to account in these mid-term elections, too.

People who count immigrants among American treasures and see President Trump's border wall as a colossal waste of money might also coalesce behind these Americans to change the Congress.

And don't forget the Americans who have already figured out that they're on the short end of the Republicans' ballyhooed tax cut. Or anyone else disturbed by some particular policy of the Republican-controlled Congress.

There is at least one other obvious bloc of voters to consider, too. They're motivated largely by President Trump's mishandling of his office, his incessant tweets, his behavior, his lies.

They cannot vote the president out of office in the midterms. But they can vote against those who have been his enablers, the members of Congress who seem not to understand that the Congress is an equal branch of government with responsibilities to this democracy.

This is no ordinary midterm election.

All the usual influences, including ham-fisted financing from special interests like the gun lobby, will be a part of it.

Still, there is more than a little reason to expect consequential change not just at the federal level but in states and localities as well.

Commentary on 02/21/2018

Print Headline: Ready to action

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