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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/13/18

Millennial Voter: Together with Generation Z, We Will Change Gun Laws

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I'm a millennial, and I vote. As such, a recent article published here on OpEd got my attention. I won't hold you in suspense: The Millennial Party dares to suggest that my generation could form its own party, elect its own candidates, and make some much-needed reforms to America's broken system, including the granddaddy of reforms -- gun control. "The Millennial Party" is daring because, as some of the comments show, ripping on millennials is the safe, accepted trend, while articles that are enthusiastic about millennials typically have some sort of caveat. I feel that the idea "The Millennial Party" broaches is worth more than a comment, it's worth an article from someone who is entrenched in this issue.

First, not to rain on anybody's parade, but the Parkland protesters are Gen Z kids, not millennials. My guess is the author chose to concentrate on millennials because of our visibility in the media and the workplace. Millennials are a popular subject. Generation Z is still coming of age, so to speak, when it comes to media attention. A simple Google search shows just over 9 million results on Generation Z, and over 14 million on millennials. It's easy to focus on millennials because that's where the primary focus is.

Second, it's naive to think a single generation -- millennials -- will bring about gun reform. This represents a misperception of millennials, and is indeed part of the stereotyping we see from all sides. Every generation has its stereotypes, so a broad stroke that characterizes millennials as sympathetic to a revolution is understandable. Really, it's flattering; but I'm a disillusioned millennial who can attest to the truth of these traits I'm about to reveal to you, traits that I think are anathema to a gun control revolution spurred on only by millennials.

Here are some the traits that generally characterize the millennial generation:

-- A Pew study found that, like all generations preceding them, millennials value family the most. In terms of identity, what sets millennials apart is their embrace of technology. Generation X is actually slightly more dissatisfied with the state of the nation than millennials.

-- Student loan startup Earnest points out that millennials are actually very traditional in their views on adulthood: more than half view having a steady job and owning a home as signs of adulthood.

-- Polls show that millennials are not statistically different than older generations when it comes to gun control. About 57 percent of people in other generations want stricter gun laws, while about 58 percent of millennials do as well. And, millennials are more conservative than other generations when it comes to "banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines."

Millennials are open to change, but we're more cautious and conservative than you'd expect. Yes, a great many came out in support of Bernie Sanders, but not enough to push him over the top against Hillary. So far, other generations who support stricter gun laws to an equal measure as millennials haven't been able to vote in the representative to make it happen. That's why I said we need social enterprises to step up and take on the NRA. The political machinery at work is just too powerful, and millennial voters are too caught up with paying off debts and staying sane to make the difference right now. Let me make this clear: millennials are desperately trying to stay sane in a system we feel is driving us insane. We don't really believe in capitalism, but at the same time we like the gadgets it gives us. If you ask me, that's a recipe for insanity.

I, for one, am a progressive millennial who votes and is aware of the following: mass shootings are a mental health issue, and when it comes to guns and public health, Congress has consistently blocked funding for the Centers for Disease Control to research this issue since the 90s. We need to vote in a Congress that will at least fund research. I'm not naive enough to think that guns themselves are the problem, it's the people who shoot them. Unfortunately, our society breeds this type of social breakdown. Anyone who is an outsider is spurned from day one.

Here's the thing: Gen Z will help other progressives like myself vote in the reps to pass the right laws. "The Millennial Party" identified the Parkland protesters as important agents of change. These are Gen Z kids taking agency at a young age. Researcher Morley Winograd points out that Gen Z values compromise, and they're adaptive; "they take the problems that were brought to light by their predecessors and try to work them out."

Millennials aren't the only generation that has brought the gun problem to light. But millennials have the numbers and the keys to America's future, and Gen Z is the adaptive generation that will work with us to institute change.

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