Columbine. Aurora. Newtown. Virginia Tech, We can whisper a litany of locations like a prayer, and without saying anything more than the names of these places, heads will bow and people understand how they are connected. Gabby Giffords greeting voters in an Arizona supermarket parking lot. Patients waiting in a Ft. Hood doctor’s office. Folks standing in a movie to see Batman in Colorado. We don’t need to say anything more.
The disconnected becomes tragically connected as one after another we have seen a gruesome and growing play-stop-rewind-repeat-play thriller where easily-obtained, rapid-fire, high-capacity guns connect to the hands of dangerous people whose motive is to kill as many innocent bystanders as possible before dying themselves.
A friend who knew how passionate I was about doing something about senseless, insane gun violence casually said to me, “Well, you gave it a shot (not sure if the pun was intended), but Congress buckled to the gun lobby. Too bad, but this is one you’ll just have to give up on.”
Give up? The bodies of babies were piled up in a Newtown elementary school; their teachers’ bodies over them, riddled while trying to protect them. Give up? Teenage Columbine survivors who hid under desks while they watched their schoolmates fall and die under desks beside them are now adults who still suffer nightmares without end. Give up? There can be no surrender in the fight for common sense laws that will keep the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous people.
And why should we give up? Over 90% of Americans, including gun owners, agreed with common sense gun safety laws that would close the loopholes on background checks that allowed some gun dealers to legally sell rapid-fire, high-capacity military-style weapon to dangerous criminals and seriously mentally ill people. Legally. Sell.
But the corporate vendors who get rich manufacturing and selling those rapid-fire, high-capacity military-style weapons don’t want to be restricted in what they sell and to whom they sell, and they have a powerful organization that spends lots of money to promote their hand-picked candidates and defeat those who don’t blindly support their Freedom to Sell Any Gun to Anyone agenda.
They have built over the years an army of politicians – local, state and national – who either inexplicably agree with Any Gun to Anyone or who conveniently agree to be quiet and not ask inconvenient questions. This army of politicians trumped 90% of Americans. For my friend, the handwriting was on the wall. Defeat. How sad. Give up.
Here is why we will not: Babies died. Our sons and daughters and grandchildren died. Our neighbors and relatives died. We won’t give up because silence means it will happen again. It means it could get worse. There are serious and idiotic debates on whether to arm teachers and train them for shoot-outs in the hall because the gun lobby’s answers to gun violence always involve selling more guns to Anybody to prepare for the next inevitable tragedy.
Their answers never involve preventing the next inevitable tragedy, but the next tragedy is inevitable only if those 90% of Americans fail to act.
We must be as strategic as the gun lobby. They won against common sense gun safety laws that 90% of Americans supported because they did not give up pushing their Any Gun to Anyone agenda. They had staying power. They organized. They stayed at it for years until they built their army. 90% of Americans can do something about that army. We can resist. We can be in their faces letting them know that they will be held accountable.
We can support common sense candidates who stand with us. We can write and call and talk to friends and blog and ask tough questions at town hall meetings and walk neighborhoods at election time and contribute to common sense causes and candidates and petition and never give up.
We will never match their money. They will never match our heart, if those passionate hearts are organized. They will never go away.
We will never give up.
(Join Lily at Netroots Nation for “Not Another Newtown: Building a Movement to Prevent Gun Violence” on Friday, 06/21/2013 at 12PM EDT. We will be livestreaming the event here on Lily’s Blackboard. Don’t miss it!)