Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Gun Sense Is Like Rome

On this day last year, the lives of 26 people, including 20 children, were abruptly and senselessly ended.

That same day, I wrote Hell Hath No Fury Like a Mother Enraged, completely unaware of the response that was brewing. In that post, I said:
Politicians, listen up. We don't want your "thoughts and prayers." We don't want your platitudes. Your "national conversation" on gun control. We want action. NOW.

What Has Not Been Done

Sadly, in April, our federal legislature displayed astonishing ineptitude as it failed to pass common-sense legislation around expanded background checks and regulation of semi-automatic weapons.

One of the saddest things about gun violence in this country is its quotidian pervasiveness. High-profile examples like the Trayvon Martin case shock and galvanize us.

More common, sadly, are the cases of accidental shootings plaguing our towns. See also: Today's Accidental Shootings, which documents 54 pages of accidental shootings between December 1, 2012 and May 28, 2013.

Even more insidious are the cases of domestic violence involving guns, like the December 5 murder of blogger Chris Keith and her oldest son by her estranged husband, who also killed himself. Keith's tragedy was not an anomaly. In fact, nine American women are shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner every week, according to an October 2013 study by the Violence Policy Center.

What Has Been Done

While it is easy to focus on what has not happened, I was reminded that change is possible by this article from Media Matters entitled "23 Gun Safety Victories Since Sandy Hook." The author, Timothy Johnson, cites such victories as:
  • The first permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms since 2006;
  • Stronger gun laws in 21 states (including Connecticut); and 
  • Some notable departures from the cultural status quo from well-known institutions like the New York Post, Starbucks and the NFL.

And multiple organizations stepped up to fill the common sense void: 

What Can You Do?

We can't all be full-time activities, accidental or otherwise. But you can make a difference. Here's how:
  • Join and/or donate money to the not-for-profit advocacy organizations listed above.
  • Tweet, email and call your representatives. Even if you live in a state like New York or California, with comprehensive gun safety legislation in place, our lawmakers are busy. Let them know you support what they stand for and want to see more. Moms Demand Action has a great tool for tweeting and emailing.
  • Speak out about gun violence! Social media makes it easy to share stories and smart articles. Don't let the deaths of twenty children, Trayvon, Chris Keith and the countless, nameless others be in vain. Don't stay silent.

Friends, do not despair: the tide of history is turning in the direction of gun sense. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Image Credit: Jon Whiles / FreeDigitalPhotos.Net