Fabiola Santiago

Here’s the real ‘Hogg Effect’ coming to a city near you: effective political action

Parkland shooting survivors embark on a summer tour

March for Our Lives organizers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland announce that they are taking their advocacy on the road this summer.
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March for Our Lives organizers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland announce that they are taking their advocacy on the road this summer.

You can tell David Hogg really, really gets under their skin.

Thanks to the Parkland student leader’s gun-reform activism, cynical NRA fans boast, May was a record-breaking month for gun sales in the United States.

They call it the “Hogg Effect.”

Malarkey.

By now it has been well established that gun sales rise after every mass shooting, and we’ve had how many school shootings after Parkland? It wasn’t only Santa Fe, Texas, where eight students and two teachers died and 13 were injured on May 18. Those who keep tally count 16 other school shootings you might not have heard of because the dead or injured weren't high enough to make national news.

Besides understandable fear, gun sales increase because people know the insanity of this nation’s lax gun laws can’t survive beyond this presidency and the right-wing zealotry that overtook the country in 2016. So the locos for guns stock up on more and more guns.

But putting it on Hogg is another tactic to discredit the school shooting survivor who has risen from tragedy to become an effective, energetic and unstoppable communicator for gun reform.

The real “Hogg Effect”: He and his fellow student leaders have made the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting a turning point on the gun-control debate. As journalists and the nation’s television cameras descended on Parkland to cover the horror, Hogg and Emma González broke with the school shooting protocol of mournful silence and disbelief. They didn't shun the attention or hide their grief. They spoke with heart and eloquence about the need to do something about the proliferation of guns killing our kids — and they haven’t let up for a day, birthing a movement.

These students and their parents not only beat the NRA lobby in Florida — for the first time anyone can remember — with small but politically significant changes in the last legislative session, but their best work is yet to come.

The parents have formed the political action committee Families vs. assault rifles to influence the 2018 midterm elections, and two are running for elected office in Broward County.

Just in time for midterm campaigning, the kids are off for the summer on a nationwide March For Our Lives bus tour to register young people to vote — and to address voter apathy.

“We can march. We can bring our politicians into a new light and make sure they’re being held accountable. But at the end of the day, real change is brought by voting,” Cameron Kasky, one of the Parkland student leaders, said at a Monday press conference, a day after the school's graduation.

The new bus-tour hashtag: #RoadtoChange.

Voting is “active patriotism, not a chore,” Kasky said, already anticipating the “patriot” crowd he’ll encounter in Middle America, and adding that the last midterm elections had the lowest voter turnout since World War II.

These kids do their homework and know the politics — and in the process they are reframing the gun control debate, wrestling it from the arms of the NRA. No more "shrugging off" apathy as just another crisis in our democracy, Kasky said. No more uninformed voters who have no idea who they're voting for and where they stand.

In Florida, the bus will visit every single congressional district, he added.

Bravo.

Hogg and his sister Lauren also will be on the road with the June 19 release of their book, “#NeverAgain A New Generation Draws the Line,” being published by Penguin Random House. A bus and a book tour, double the bravo.

No wonder the NRA and its flock want to discredit these kids who have an army of followers and will soon reach many more hearts and minds.

The Stoneman Douglas student survivors and parents who’ve turned the loss of their children into a life’s cause are leading the way to change across so many platforms it’s hard to keep up.

The #ChangetheRef campaign, for example, was coined and is led by Joaquin Oliver’s Venezuelan parents, who have become the voice of the movement in Spanish.

Four months after the shooting, none of them have lost the media’s attention; they’ve commanded it.

“We are part of something so much greater,” Kasky rightly said.

They’re bringing to and sharing their spotlight with others — and young people all over the country are believers that something must be done to take killing machines off our streets. They too are working to make a difference.

And so, while the president of the United States is being castigated by the United Nations for incarcerating immigrant children — a human-rights abuse — the Parkland students who led the March For Our Lives received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award.

The entire country knows them, hears them, are moved by their work.

And this is the real “Hogg Effect” coming to a city near you: effective political action.

Follow me on Twitter, @fabiolasantiago
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