Skin in the Game

Watching gun rights advocates try to figure out what to do with the children of the #neveragain movement over the last week or so has been an interesting lesson. 

A few trolls on Twitter have done what trolls do; hide behind facades and say horrible things.

A few of the “tell it like it is” brand of conservatives have taken some swipes. Dinesh D’Souza tweeted a picture of distraught Parkland survivors in the Florida Statehouse after the legislature refused to pass gun control measures.

“Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs” was his comment.

D’Souza crumbled quickly under the blowback and apologized. The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) was quick to confirm that D’Souza would not be speaking at their annual conference last week.

After facing them in a CNN town hall, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, realizing the children were off limits, went after the media at the same CPAC conference D’Souza did not speak at.

“Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,”

Swing and a miss.

Over a dozen companies, including United Airlines and Hertz Rentacar ended their marketing relationships with the NRA shortly after.

It’s not particularly fair for political opponents of a movement to be faced with a group of people they can’t smear or debase. It’s not particularly fair to have someone come into a school and murder 17 of your classmates with a military grade assault rifle after a long line of legislative and law enforcement failures let someone slip through the high school sized gap in the system either.

Politicians, pundits and wonks are waking up to a harsh reality right now. For the most part, they’re hobbyists in the game of America. They’re spectators. They’re not invested. As Nassim Taleb put it in his latest book, Skin in the Gamethey pay no price for the poor outcomes of their constituency.

“Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions….Because what matters in life isn’t how frequently one is “right” about outcomes, but how much one makes when one is right. Being wrong, when it is not costly, doesn’t count.”

On multiple civic and societal levels we were wrong in Parkland. And it didn’t cost you and me anything. But it cost 17 children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School their lives. And it’s cost hundreds more a life where they didn’t live in a world where they survived a massacre that was worse than anything I saw in three deployments to war zones.

Now they’re letting us hear about it. And it is a powerful message that seems to have moved the gun control debate in America out of the trenches and into the open field of maneuver.

Of their advocacy, Retired SEAL Admiral Bill Mcraven, a man I served under, had the following to say. “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenge the laws that have not served them well.”

His call to challenge the laws that do not serve us well is a reminder of the order of things.

They are laws.

Their purpose is to serve the interests of those that willfully submit their liberties to follow them. They are not scripture. They are not the purpose.

We are.

Most of the people participating in the gun debate to advocate for strict interpretation of the Second Amendment don’t have any skin in the game. The burning need to realise a future reality where the United States government cannot subjugate its people because they can purchase semi-automatic .556 caliber rifles and no one can pass any laws at all to stop anything does not constitute skin in the game in 2018.

Rural America, politicians and gun manufacturers aren’t getting killed by gun violence.  Poor people, women and now school teachers and kids are. And that’s who’s got skin in the game.

The argument against the advocacy of these children is that they’re voices are being carried by the politically minded representatives and media. And that is somehow supposed to make them less legitimate.

Which begs the question. If not to carry the voices of those poorly served by our laws, what is the purpose of a representative government?

Perhaps one should go find someone whose life has been materially injured by stricter gun laws and advocate for them. If finding someone beyond the NRA or gun manufacturers proves difficult, then perhaps a time to reflect on one’s priorities has come.


9 thoughts on “Skin in the Game

  1. It will be the youngsters of our country whom will change gun laws in this country. They need to run for office independent of either party and create waves in the two party system. Children are dying in schools and on the streets of our inner cities. Schools are designed to be a safe place for learning not a place of fear. Our politicians whom I am sure have children should think about how their opinion would change if their child was involved in a school shooting.


  2. The Parkland survivors have started a movement that will change opinions, policy, and pocketbooks. Thank you to those students, and to all the companies that are listening to them.


  3. Well stated. Republican strategist Steve Schmidt has an interesting comment circulating on MSNBC these days which is that while many in Congress have perhaps fired an AR 15 and know how loud and disruptive the weapon can be, precious few of them have been on the “receiving end” of this sort of gunfire the way these kids were. The thought of what they have experienced (along with the multitude of victims who preceded them) still terrifies me. The students’ activism is an inspiration, as are some of the changes and commitments made in gun and policies/partnerships concerning the NRA by American companies in recent days. There is hope for ‘well regulated’ sanity.


  4. Your comment pre-supposes a criminalization of firearm ownership. These are not the common sense laws that are being advocated for.


  5. You’re making criminals out of people who don’t ‘willfully submit’ to your point of view. So not, it is not at all ‘willful’ of these people to when you change laws to abridge the rights of law-abiding people because you feel that they are wrong in exercising that right and because someone else broke the law.


  6. Once again, spot on. Any thoughts on running for office? I would move there just to establish residency! Please be a real human being and not some algorithmically constructed bot…

    Sent from my iPhone



  7. Well said. Laws are not scripture. If they do not serve us well we need to change them.

    The kids have the right focus and don’t appear to be distracted by all the flying squirrels from the NRA and gun manufacturers. The reason we have the highest murder rates is because we have the most guns.


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