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On March 9, the Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, did something that only weeks ago seemed impossible: He signed a bipartisan bill limiting access to guns.
What we have witnessed in the numerous protests and eloquent, heart-wrenching speeches given by the students and parents of the survivors of the Parkland shooting is a refusal to buy into the narrative that has gripped our country since the Sandy Hook massacre: No matter what we say, do, or write, nothing will ever change. Indeed, scanning through the media landscape over the past few weeks, it’s shocking to see how quickly the collective national outrage has morphed into resignation. Journalists and commentators have been explaining why the NRA will always keep winning or why Americans will never give up their guns.
But are we really? It’s not like we haven’t seen this narrative before.
During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, there was not just widespread media indifference, but more often outright hostility, paranoia, and fear in the media coverage of AIDS. Thousands of people, mostly gay men, were dying, and almost nothing was being done about it. President Reagan refused to even mention the AIDS crisis until well into his second term, and many media outlets were hesitant to document the epidemic at hand.
It took the efforts of activist organizations like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and ACT-UP for our country to wake up to the horrors of AIDS and to force real action to be taken to prevent these deaths from multiplying. These activists were instrumental in changing the narrative on the epidemic and finally getting doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and legislators to take the necessary steps to address the crisis.
Read more about the promise of social movements by Eric Sasson at GOOD Magazine