One of the most remarkable developments in the constantly evolving fallout from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre – other than the fact that gun control is still resonating strongly enough to be found on front pages and homepages more than two weeks after the murders – is where tangible leadership is coming from now.
The students of Parkland and their peers are still leading and rightfully dominating the conversation; how else to explain the motivation behind the surreal televised gun control summit at the White House this week, featuring a president who received some $30 million worth of National Rifle Association largess playing to the cameras by encouraging law enforcement to come for people's guns, due process be damned? President Trump knows a compelling storyline with legs when he sees it, and he knew just how to make himself a crucial part of that story.
Another catalyst for the president's brief flirtation with gun control: the slowly growing numbers of corporations responding to their clients and customers by acting on their own to reduce access to certain firearms. Among them: Coraopolis-based Dick's Sporting Goods, which stopped selling assault-style rifles and raised the age to purchase firearms in its stores from 18 to 21 – a move that resulted in similar actions and restrictions enacted by Walmart, LL Bean and Kroger.
These are the most direct responses to the firearm industry and its influential lobbying arm, and follow similarly high-profile moves that include Delta and numerous rental car agencies ending discounts for NRA members - despite, in Delta's case, taking such a stand could wind up costing it some $40 million in tax breaks after a vindictive Georgia legislature decided to rewrite the bill containing the exemption following the airline's move. Even non-shooting outdoor sports are feeling the impact: REI has stopped selling Camelbak, Bell and Giro sporting products, all brands owned by Vista Outdoors, which also makes firearms.
Notably, no corporations of similar stature have stepped in to pick up the discarded NRA business and branding. For a president and administration so finely attuned to the corporate mindset, leading by following is logical – and this is the rare instance where such a "strategy" will be for the greater good.
Pat Toomey: Recognition and publicity for the US senator’s recently revived bill (co-sponsored with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin) toughening background checks for gun purchases in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre came from an unlikely source: President Trump. During a televised meeting on gun control, the president told Toomey that he was “afraid of the NRA” for not including a provision to raise the age to purchase rifles from 18 to 21 – a curious charge to level at the senator who has arguably done more than any of his GOP colleagues to stand up to the lobbying group via his legislation.
Brian Fitzpatrick: This week’s profile in courage, PA GOP edition, goes to the Congressman, who was the only member of the Commonwealth’s Republican congressional membership not to sign on to the federal lawsuit challenging the state Supreme Court’s redrawn congressional maps. Fitzpatrick is calling for the redistricting process to be done by an independent, nonpartisan citizens commission – something he has argued for since he came to Congress.
Jess King: Lancaster County’s most competitive local congressional primary for Democrats in years ended suddenly last week when Christina Hartman, considered by many to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, withdrew from consideration during a Lancaster County Democratic Committee meeting. Her exit led the committee to unanimously endorse King, a nonprofit leader, to challenge incumbent Congressman Lloyd Smucker in the redrawn 11th District.
Ed Pawlowski: Allentown’s four-term mayor was found guilty on 47 of 54 charges – all felonies –in his pay-to-play trial. Sentencing has yet to occur, as does Pawlowski’s departure date from the mayor’s office.
Nick Miccarelli: The Republican state Rep. was accused by two women of committing a stunning array of sexual misconduct. His alleged actions – and his combative response to them and those asking about them – led to House leadership to call on him to step down, as well as added fuel to the fire of pending #MeToo legislation in the state House.
John Kennedy: Following a City & State report revealing that Kennedy, the campaign chair for GOP candidate Scott Wagner, was heavily involved in a mailer attacking fellow PA GOP candidates, Wagner fired him.