The Jewish Democratic Council of America held an exclusive briefing on gun violence prevention on Monday with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and policy expert Tom Diaz.
Deutch, whose southern Florida district includes the town of Parkland, has been a fierce advocate for sensible gun safety laws in the months since the tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Now in his fifth term in Congress, Deutch has also been a longtime supporter of the progressive and pro-Israel causes that are important to the American Jewish community.
Tom Diaz is a writer, lawyer, and public speaker on the gun industry and gun control issues. Formerly a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, he has been featured on MSNBC, NPR, and other national media.
The two discussed the state of play for gun reform, and the surge of energy that MSD students and the #MarchForOurLives have brought to this issue.
Here are some excerpts from their conversation, a recording of the call and a link to the full transcript.
On the Student Survivors: These student leaders are changing the debate, they’re changing the dynamic, and they understand there are a number of races across the country where this can and will be the defining issue. They’re showing us how to persuade the nation. They’re showing us how to win in Congress. And they’re going to show us, through their leadership across the country, how we can win elections. (TD)
On what the NRA tries to do: What the NRA does is try to distract from the legal precedent and the rational discussion in ways that we’ve for too long allowed them to get away with. They want to discuss what the Second Amendment means. We don’t need to do that. We already know it’s limited. You can’t own a tank. You can’t own an aircraft carrier. You can’t own an assault rifle in many states across the country now. We don’t need to engage in a fight with the NRA if they want to engage in a conversation about the kinds of weapons that were around when the Second Amendment was drafted. (TD)
On “learned helplessness:” I was interviewing a professor of psychiatry from Georgetown, and what she told me is these kids do not have—which unfortunately too many of us do have—is something called learned helplessness, which is something people in abusive relationships get. They have not learned you can’t do certain things. And by not having that learned helplessness, they’ve turned into leaders for this country. (ToD)
On this time being different: This just shows how things are different this time: When the NRA tweeted about their meeting with the President—well, as I said, I got a breaking news update from the New York Times. Now, curious as I was, I went to look at the Twitter feed of this NRA official who tweeted that news—a tweet that generated breaking news. He had about 8800 followers. Emma Gonzalez has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter. (TD)
On what we can do: One of the things I found most encouraging about the response to this latest terrible tragedy is I got a lot of calls, but they weren’t from the usual suspects. It’s like anything else: You have to get involved. We can change our culture. We can define our culture from something different than what it is now. (ToD)