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Opinion Boycott the schools. It’s the last hope for U.S. gun control

It’s forgotten. Of course it’s forgotten. Two days of headlines for the latest bloodbath, the carnage in Santa Fe, Tex., and everybody moved on. Lawmakers bow to the horse-and-buggy era’s Second Amendment. They curtsy before the Neanderthals of the National Rifle Association.

The NRA has a perfect new boss. Oliver North. You might remember this lardhead from the 1980s when he almost brought down the Reagan administration over the illicit sale of arms to rebels in Nicaragua. A vanity-ridden zealot who somehow managed to avoid drowning in his own self-righteousness, Mr. North went on to be a Fox News commentator.

Now as America’s No. 1 firearms promoter, he maintains that it’s not guns but the woeful culture of violence that is responsible for mass shootings. This hasn’t stopped him from being a paid pitchman for the violent video game Call of Duty. Nor has he explained why other advanced countries with similar youth cultures don’t have mass shootings.

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Like Charlton Heston, his view is that 300 million guns in America are barely enough. Donald Trump doesn’t object. He’s become an NRA lackey.

Students should know by now that traditional protests – even those as massive as the one in Washington in March – don’t cut it. Not with federal lawmakers. A couple of days of lip service. That’s it.

What is to be done? There’s a proposal that has possibilities. Boycott the schools. Carry out a nationwide attendance ban, maybe rolling state-by-state boycotts, until the government passes major gun-control measures.

The idea is being pushed by former Obama administration officials, progressives who got precious little done on gun control beyond a chorus of Amazing Grace.

Maybe they’ve learned something. Arne Duncan, Barack Obama’s education secretary, has termed the boycott idea “brilliant and tragically necessary.”

Mr. Duncan was at the helm when children were blown to pieces by sicko Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. “When we were part of the administration we played by all the rules after Sandy Hook. We did a study, we did a report, we worked with Congress, and guess what we accomplished? Nothing.”

Having spent most of his lifetime trying to get youth in school, Mr. Duncan will now devote his efforts to keeping them out. It’s a long-shot bid but worth a try. September is the targeted month. Gun devotees on the political right of course will be up in arms. They’re already running down Mr. Duncan. One rightie scribe went after him because his kids go to an elite school. How dare therefore that he participate in the debate?

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What a piece of work America is in the populist era. How about it? The more learned you are, the less credibility you have.

Beyond the right’s rage, a school boycott, parent-driven, student-driven or both, would be a logistical nightmare. There are 50 million precollege students in the United States. Schools in rural districts likely wouldn’t take part. There would be practical problems such as working parents not being at home to mind their kids during the day.

Of course not all schools would have to take part for a boycott to be impactful. A goodly number in concentrated areas would do. You could imagine how the pressure would intensify for lawmakers to do something. Thus far, Congress has been pathetically idle. Not even a promise to do something about bump stocks, devices that make firearms fully automatic, has been fulfilled.

September would be a good time for the boycott because the midterm elections are two months later. Most Democrats would support the boycott. Most Republicans would not. The gun issue could become pivotal in the campaign.

Boycotts have a checkered record. But they can work. One example as cited by Mr. Duncan, albeit a localized one, was the Montgomery bus boycott of the 1950s. It was a civil-rights protest in Alabama wherein African Americans stayed away to protest segregated seating. The boycott focused national attention. It led to a Supreme Court decision that declared the laws segregating buses unconstitutional. Another successful boycott, one which won global support, targeted South Africa for its apartheid policies.

Carrying out a nationwide boycott presents a myriad of risk-laden challenges. But with nothing else working it has to be done. It won’t stop all school shootings. But it’s the best hope of finally bringing about serious legislative action on gun control. As with the civil-rights movement, it’s time for civil disobedience on this issue.

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