WASHINGTON — Student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School inspired hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets last month to call attention to gun violence. Many protesters seemed to have their sights set on this year’s midterm elections, as they carried signs alluding to their voting power and arguing that legislators backed by the National Rifle Association needed to be voted out of office.
But anti-gun violence advocacy groups say there is one more test: whether the momentum that resulted students to organize the March For Our Lives in the nation’s capital can continue until Election Day in November.
“The issue is, are children going to show up to vote? ” said Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Because that’s the banner of success for us.”
“We need to make sure when voters vote in November, that this is something they’re voting on, ” said Shannon Watts, co-founder of Moms Demand Action.
Both Watts and Brown pointed to last year’s gubernatorial election in Virginia as a promising blueprint for electoral success. Exit polls showed that guns were the second most important issue for voters, behind merely health care. Now-Gov. Ralph Northam( D ), as well as Democratic nominees on the local level, used gun control as an issue to their advantage; Democrats and gun safety advocacy groups successfully stimulated the NRA’s support for Northam’s opponent, Ed Gillespie, a political liability.