It was a clash of messages and generations. Close to a million showed up on the Mall in Washington and around the country. Their message to the Congress — which had conveniently left town along with President Donald the day before — was “We vote.”

The NRA’s response was “We pay cash.”

The gun lobby’s message has worked so well and so long that a conservative majority on the Supreme Court violated the true intent of the founding fathers and ruled that the Second Amendment is absolute, giving every single person the right to have as many firearms as they wish.

The message from the demonstrators – as many as double the number of people who showed up for Trump’s inauguration in the same location last year — was the times they are a changing.

Demonstrations were held around the world, including in Tel Aviv, where three Jewish teen survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, led a protest against gun violence. Five of the 17 victims at their school were Jewish. The event’s organizer, Marni Mandell, noted that Israel’s tough gun laws could be a model for the United States, The Times of Israel reported.

Will the movement they’ve begun be sustained and will they take it to the polls? Will the Congress hear them? One of their first steps has been to organize voter registration drives.

Among the deafest of the deaf is the man who controls what legislation actually gets to come up for a vote in Congress, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

Ryan, the NRA’s top investment with the most gun money in his coffers, is that old definition of an “honest” politician: once bought, stays bought.

His response to the Valentines Day massacre of 17 students and educators at Stoneman Douglas was right out of the National Rifle Association playbook.

As the number one recipient of NRA money in the last election at $171,977, the Wisconsin Republican was quick to show his loyalty. Again. He has consistently used his power to dictate the congressional agenda to block any gun control legislation from seeing the light of day in the House of Representatives.

The NRA-bought Speaker was quick to offer his “thoughts and prayers” for the victims but cautioned against any measures to deal with gun violence. This is no time to “jump to some conclusions” but to “step back and count our blessings,” he cautioned.

He wouldn’t say when the right time is, but you know what he’s thinking: never.

Those aren’t blessings to be counted, Mr. Speaker. They’re dead bodies of children, teachers, and too many other Americans gunned down. The weapon of choice is most of those mass murders has been a version of the AR-15 assault rifle. The body count is growing. There have been 23 mass shootings just since you became Speaker, killing some 220 people in those incidents alone. Some of the deadliest episodes in American history happened on your watch, including Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 died. There was also the Texas First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, 26; Las Vegas Strip, 58; Orlando Pulse nightclub 49, and San Bernardino, 14.

Your prayers aren’t working, Mr. Speaker, unless you’re praying to protect your benefactors in the gun lobby. It’s time to get off your knees and start showing you care more about protecting the lives and rights of American children than the interests of the gun lobby.

President Trump, Speaker Ryan and their fellow Republicans make the GOP look like a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA. Together they march in lockstep with the NRA but they are out of step with American voters, especially the younger generation that organized and led the March for Our Lives this weekend.