As I have attempted to find some way to cope with the overwhelming tragedy of another massacre (and it is just that, mass murder, now referred to as ‘school shootings’ as if it’s a category of murder), I have read other people’s words and reflections, seeking some way to turn the absolute despair that comes with this grief into doing something — taking some action beyond praying for the families.
With each of these horrific incidents, this country moves further toward being a civilization willing to sacrifice our children in order to sustain a “right” that has long since moved from its original purpose in our Constitution, one that now has become the right to turn the majority of U.S. citizens who see the damage and danger of our “right to bear arms” into hostages to a non-taxed, sparsely represented pro-gun lobby.
Nearly 60% of Americans favor gun safety legislation, but a mere 60 senators, elected to serve all of the people in their states, choose to ignore the majority in order to secure their own political positions. They offer prayers as if that will restore the lives lost to guns in the hands of madmen.
Madmen yes, because nearly all of these assassins who can get guns no matter their background or mental stability are men — usually young men. In an FBI list of active shooter incidents in the United States from 2000 to 2018, CNN reports that only nine of 250 incidents identified involved female shooters.
Guns are now the leading cause of death among American children and teens. According to a report released by the CDC last month, 4,368 kids died from gun violence in 2020, compared to almost 4,000 who died in car crashes. There are some serious racial disparities in the data, too: Black children aged 1 to 19 have died from gunfire at a rate more than four times that of white kids. Wondering what the stats are in your state? Here are the 10 states with the most gun fatalities among children. (via Katie Couric’s newsletter)
I call on the global community of women, and especially now American women—mothers, wives, sisters, colleagues—to lead whatever actions are necessary to put reasonable, compassionate leaders into the positions where the decisions about gun safety are made. This means campaigning against the political leaders who kowtow to the companies and vocal minority, and putting forward reasonable, compassionate leaders in their place.
Prayers will not make this happen.
60 senators voted no in the most recent attempt to have national gun safety laws. Here’s who they are.
According to the Brady Campaign, these are the top 10 senators who have received the most money from the NRA: Mitt Romney ($13,647,676), Richard Burr ($6,987,380), Roy Blunt ($4,555,7222), Thom Tillis ($4,421,333), Marco Rubio ($3,303,355), Joni Ernst ($4,124,773), Rob Portman ($3,063,327), Todd Young ($2,897,582), and Bill Cassidy ($2,867,074). You can see the numbers for more of the senators here.
Richard Burr (NC), Rob Portman (OH), and Roy Blunt (MO) are all retiring this year. Todd Young (IN) and Marco Rubio (FL) are running for reelection this year. Let’s start with a call campaign — call 202-224-3121 — and tell them that you support universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. That’s a start.
Speak up, speak out, stand up and show up: Yes, that’s how I define being dangerous enough to meet the challenges of dangerous times, and as this week makes tragically clear yet again, we are living in dangerous times.
We can’t be silent or sit on the sidelines while our children and our communities are in danger every day because guns are available and in the hands of so many who would not be able to have them with common sense gun safety legislation. Note the countries that have such laws and compare the numbers of deaths by guns. Guns, especially assault weapons, kill people. To deny that is insanity, just as it is insane for a democracy to allow such tragedies to happen again and again and offer prayers, rather than protection under the law.
As Coach Kerr, put it so passionately…
“We all are not okay. We need to rise up and say, ‘Enough is Enough.'”
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, these are the common sense laws that Congress needs to pass in order to start solving America’s gun problem.
- Background checks on all gun purchases
- People under 21 should not be able to buy guns
- Alert local law enforcement of failed background checks
- “The Disarm Hate Act” prohibits anyone convicted of a hate crime from buying a gun
- “Red flag” laws that allow loved ones or law enforcement to intervene by petitioning a court for an order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns
- Federal and state laws should block people with dangerous histories — including domestic abusers, convicted stalkers, people under restraining orders, people recently convicted of a violent crime, and others — from being able to buy guns
- Require that lost and stolen guns be reported to law enforcement to deter illegal gun trafficking
- Require prohibited people to turn in their guns
- Institute waiting period laws requiring gun buyers to wait until a certain period of time has passed to receive guns purchased
- Close the loophole that allows gun purchases to go forward when background checks take longer than three days
It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. We are the majority — on gun control, on abortion rights, on LGTBQ+ / trans rights, on climate change — on so many of the issues that are dividing us as a nation.
We must all speak up, speak out, stand up and show up.
That means vote, donate, act — and by doing so, become as dangerous as we need to be to meet the challenges of these dangerous times.