In December of 2012, a man took an assault rifle and killed 20 first graders (and six teachers) in Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of us thought that would spur some action by Congress to address the widespread availability of guns in this country, and its contribution to an ever-growing number of mass shootings (averaging about one every day in the U.S.).
We were wrong. The congressional Republicans showed an amazingly cold-hearted ability to turn their backs on those dead children. They decided that the money they receive from the NRA (and gun manufacturers) was more important to them than the lives of American children. They offered "thoughts and prayers", and then did nothing.
So far this year, we have had at least 18 school shootings -- the most recent being the murder of 17 students and staff in Parkland, Florida. Once again, the nation is outraged. This time the students themselves are trying to start a movement to get something done, and the news networks are helping them pass the word. That's heartening, but the Republicans have shown us in the past that they can ignore a popular movement -- after all, about 90% of Americans support plugging the holes in the background check law, but that hasn't moved Congress to action. There's just too much NRA campaign money to give up!
But we may be seeing the beginning of a movement that could matter. Former Ambassador (and prominent GOP financier) Al Hoffman, Jr. has declared that he won't give another penny to any Republican candidate that fails to act to ban assault weapons -- and he gives enough to matter. He's also trying to get other top Republican donors on board also. If he can get enough on board with him to seriously affect campaign donations (at least equaling the money from the NRA), that could actually spur the Republicans to take action.
I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Republicans to act on the gun violence, but at least someone's now talking about something they care about. They may not care about American lives, but they do care about donations to their own campaigns. In fact, it seems to be the only thing they care about.
Will enough donors come to their senses and join Hoffman? We'll just have to wait and see.