• Parkland anniversary: How the shooting impacted local gun organizations

    By: Crystal Haynes

    Updated:

    BOSTON - Valentine's Day marks the anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 students and teachers. 

    The tragedy launched a movement encouraging teens to get involved and speak out. Gun control groups say membership is at an all-time high in some places across the country, including in Massachusetts. The movement is also having an effect on the other side of the issue.

    "Parkland was a gamechanger," said John Rosenthal, Stop Handgun Violence. 

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    Massachusetts' 'Stop Handgun Violence' says it has seen a big spike in support over the past year.

    "Massachusetts has been ahead of the curve for a long time, but membership has greatly expanded. Over 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun sales. Seventy percent of gun owners support a ban on assault weapons," said Rosenthal. 

    According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, more than 20 states have passed some form of gun regulation in the last year.

    Mass. already has the most rigorous gun laws in the country, but in response to the Parkland shooting, lawmakers went one step further passing the extreme risk protection order - or ERPO bill - that would allow the court to remove firearms from dangerous individuals. 

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    Groups like GOAL, Gun Owners Action League, the state chapter of the NRA, are also seeing a spike in membership and fundraising dollars. 

    "It's sad, but controversy raises money and membership," said Jim Wallace, GOAL executive director.

    Wallace tells Boston 25 News they saw fundraising dollars nearly double over the last year, but he argues emotions and politics are getting in the way of solving the real problem - access to mental health care. 

    "We've got enough gun laws on the books to put anybody away for pretty much life if they cause a problem. What we're not doing is solving the problem," said Wallace. 

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    In House races last year, groups and candidates promoting gun control spent an estimated $23.6 million on television campaign ads; more than three times the amount spent on ads opposing it.

    "The public is finally stepping up. Guns became a voting issue in the midterms and the House flipped," said Rosenthal. 

    Guns have already become an issue in the quickly-developing 2020 presidential race.

    "I think it's gone off the rails already and I think it's because politicians use the fear and anger to raise money for themselves," said Wallace. 

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