Parkland student activists who’ve inspired the nation with their #neveragain movement need help turning their youthful passion into new voters for sensible gun laws.

The legions of young new voters expected to spring from the student-led marches, walkouts and demonstrations have yet to appear.

Despite the public outcry after the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, fewer young people have registered to vote this year in Broward and several other large Florida counties than during the same period four years ago.

It’s surprising — and somewhat disappointing — to learn the movement has yet to deliver a significant number of new young voters, though history tells us young people are hard to engage.

But in truth, it’s unrealistic to expect high school students to turn this tide alone, no matter how passionate, persuasive and connected they are on social media.

Grown-ups must do more to help.

Elections supervisors across the state — across the country, really — should step up voter registration drives in high schools and on college campuses.

We’d also encourage voter-advocacy groups — from the League of Women Voters to Rock the Vote — to ramp up their registration campaigns. The league helped register a number of 16-year-olds at the Parkland March for Our Lives, and the kids were thrilled.

Churches and synagogues, civic groups, even youth sports leagues could also help by distributing and collecting voter registration material to people.

And while the Parkland students are right not to affiliate with outside groups that could co-opt them, they would be wise to sound the call for help on voter registrations. For early returns suggest their speeches, interviews and social media hashtags are not enough.

The potential for change is too great to let this moment pass. The number of young people who say they plan to vote in November is greater than it was in 2014 and 2010. Thirty-seven percent of adults under 30 said they’ll “definitely be voting,” up from 31 percent in 2010 and 23 percent in 2014.

It took the outrage of students, tired of being targeted by weapons of war, to finally wake up a country numb to gun violence. But to succeed, the gun-control movement needs more committed voters.

National polls show a majority of Americans support banning assault weapons, outlawing high-capacity ammunition magazines and toughening background checks.

We need those Americans to register. And in November, we need them to become single-issue voters on common-sense gun laws.


Editorial by Sun Sentinel


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