Sanford: Time will tell if student-led movement will be effective

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An exercise in free speech and freedom of assembly were on clear display on Saturday in Memphis, across the nation and around the globe. The encouraging thing was that high school students were leading the charge for change by calling for sensible reforms to gun laws and greater attention to mental health issues.

The national March For Our Lives was sparked by the mass killing of 17 students and teachers last month at a Florida high school. The shooter was a 19-year-old former student wielding an AR-15 and loads of ammunition.

More than 200,000 students and supporters gathered in Washington while here in Memphis, some 1,500 marched from Clayborn Temple to the National Civil Rights Museum.

The protests were impressive as young people spoke eloquently about the need for change despite claims by the National Rifle Association that the students are being manipulated by gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites out to destroy the Second Amendment.

But instead of a war of words, the student-led movement will be most effective if it results in a massive increase in registered voters followed by an equally massive turnout for the midterm elections.

If that happens, lawmakers who do the bidding of the NRA are in danger and an energized group of kids who have had enough truly will have the last word.

Commentary provided by Otis Sanford