The other night, when my husband came home from running out to get a new air conditioning filter, he found me crying as I wiped down the kitchen counter tops after dinner. I was listening to a national conference call led by Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and the heartfelt words and desperation of people who had lost their loved ones to senseless gun violence brought me to tears.
Richard Martinez talked about the death of his 20-year-old son, Christopher, whose life was cut short by gun violence during a massacre near UC Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014. That mass shooting took the lives of six people and injured 14 others. Reverend Sharon Risher bravely spoke about the death of her mother this summer, when she and eight other people were shot and killed during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. And Caren Teves described her son, Alex, who died as he shielded his girlfriend from gunfire during a midnight screening of a movie in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012. Eleven other people were shot and killed in the movie theater that night. Seventy more were injured.
So often when we hear about these tragedies, these deaths are described as “losses.” I hate using the word “lost,” because it allows for some hope that these victims will be found. They are all gone from this world forever as a result of simply living their lives and doing ordinary things that we all have the freedom to do in our country: shopping at a deli, worshiping, enjoying a movie. And they were all shot to death by three dangerous men who should have never had access to guns.
During the recent conference call, Shannon Watts’ plea was simple: contact your members of Congress and demand a vote. Demand a vote to close loopholes in the background check system that allows dangerous people to purchase guns.
Over the past five weeks, gun violence has taken the lives of so many innocent Americans who were simply living their lives. Nine people were gunned down during the prayer service in Charleston on June 17, 2015. Four Marines and a Navy sailor were slayed in Chattanooga less than one month later. And on July 23, 2015, two young women were shot while watching Trainwreck in a movie theater in Lafayette—just a few nights after I enjoyed the same movie with a group of my girlfriends here in San Antonio. I pray that by the time this blog is posted there will not be yet another mass shooting in our country.
I have been hesitant to blog about my involvement in and support of Moms Demand Action, because I don’t want to politicize this space. I respect other people’s opinions, and I’m not interested in a heated discussion on gun rights here. But the more I think about these issues, the more I am convinced that this is not and should not be a political issue. Who could argue that dangerous, hateful people who are intent on killing our friends, family members and children should have easy access to guns?
I became involved in Moms Demand about a year after the Sandy Hook tragedy. When I think about the horrible things that have happened in our country during my lifetime, only 9-11 shook me up more than Sandy Hook. In the fall of 2012, my daughter, Sadie, was in second grade, just like the 20 children who were gunned down in their classroom on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. In the days following the tragedy, I struggled emotionally. Putting my daughters on the school bus each morning reminded me that parents in Newtown were grieving in a way that I could not comprehend—parents who would never see their six-year-old’s smiling face again.
I felt certain in the days, weeks, and months following Sandy Hook that surely something would be done, that our government would find a way to ensure that these types of tragedies would not occur—or, at the very least, that they would not become more commonplace. But what I slowly, depressingly realized was that nothing was being done. It was all being forgotten, and I could not forget. So I reached out to a friend who had posted about her involvement in Moms Demand on her Facebook page. We had lunch, and I learned about the organization. I realized that there are lots of moms (and dads) here in San Antonio just like me—moms who are sick and tired of the pervasive culture of gun violence that seems more and more common in our society. Moms who feel the call to DO SOMETHING about it.
If you find yourself still feeling undone and sad about Sandy Hook, or if you have felt angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed about the recent headlines and constant gun violence occurring in our country, please get involved. Your voice is needed. We can make a difference.
Here are a few ways you can help:
Join our local Moms Demand chapter, which is a part of a larger organization, Everytown for Gun Safety. These ladies are awesome, smart, inspiring, and passionate about keeping our children and families safe.
Contact our state senators and tell them to close the loophole that allows dangerous people to get a hold of guns. Send an e-mail. Or you can be directly connected to your congressman via phone by clicking here.
Encourage your friends to get involved, and tell them this isn’t a political issue. I know we live in South Texas, an area steeped in the traditions of deer hunting and heat-packing, so sometimes it’s hard to bring up the subject. There’s been so much discussion about gun violence in the media this summer, and I think that retired U.S. Lieutenant General Russel Honore recently said it best: “As a country we’re in a state of denial because we’ve confused the right to bear arms with the right to carry arms all the time anywhere or anyplace you want. We have to have a different kind of conversation in America and be prepared to speak about the politically unspeakable.”
Join the conversation. Get involved. We can turn this around. Demand it.
Very good and brave of you to present this topic, Kelly. No, it is not a partisan issue. No, it is not about gun owners vs. non-gun owners. Many gun owners want the same thing… for guns to stay out of the hands of irresponsible people. It’s just common sense.
We can tighten laws against the bad guys without affecting the good guys. There is certainly room for that.
Too many innocent people are being maimed and killed each day. What we are doing now is clearly not working.
Guns do not go off by themselves. The common denominator in all of these horrible tragedies may seem like guns but in actuality it is mental illness of the person holding the gun. If you take away all the guns, so what? Then they will make their own bombs. Why don’t you people realize mental Illness is being undertreated and down right NOT treated in America. Why? Because health insurance companies deny most claims having to do with mental illness. Disablility and life insurance companies deny it too. Most psychiatrists in San Antonio and across the nation do not take insurance anymore, thus leaving only wealthy patients who can afford to care for their mental illness. Those who have some mild illness and some education seek out help from family doctors and internists who are all overwhelmed with multiple other things like decreased pay from insurance companies, and rising costs to keep their business afloat. Why not pass legislation to help those with mental illness get the right treatment they need?? We need our government to help patients and doctors and not drive all of the great doctors out of medicine forever. The best way they can do that is stop the lawyers and put a stop to insurance companies unethical practices. Why should someone with mental illness be denied coverage for their disease?? Why should insurance companies have the right to cover some health issues and not others? In fact most plans DO NOT cover mental Illness at all. You would never see that happen with someone with diabetes or heart disease. Why don’t they stop covering all diabetics? That would save them billions of dollars. It is because the mentally ill can not fight for themselves, whereas the diabetics have enough sound mind to fight back. Think about it.
So, yer an unthinking bobbleheaded anti rights crusader…. I bet you wear white after labor day too..
What specifically are the loopholes in the background check system that allows dangerous people to purchase guns? Even if you take away the right to carry guns – criminals and mentally ill people, hell-bent on hurting and killing people WILL continue to carry those guns. I am thankful that we can carry. If you’re in a movie theater and a lunatic opens fire, but someone a row behind you is legally and safely carrying a handgun and can stop the evil person from continuing his or her killing spree, wouldn’t that be wonderful? Because, NO amount of legislation, loophole closing or background checking is going to stop criminals and lunatics from getting their hands on a gun but it can stop legally abiding people from carrying one.
I am not callous to the malicious and horrible acts that evil people have carried out in Sandy Hook or Arizona, Tennessee or Louisiana. I am just as outraged, saddened and heart-broken as you are. I value life! I value their right to live and not be murdered by some lunatic with a gun shooting for sport or revenge or anything! I want something done too but short of closing down cartels, mafia, black markets and criminal rings, nothing will stop it. Taking away or making it harder for legally abiding citizens isn’t going to change that problem.
I think this idea that criminals will get guns anyway is pretty outrageous. We know we can’t stop every single gun crime, but we need to try to prevent as many as possible. No other public safety crisis this serious would cause us to say, “Nothing we can do.” We require seat belts, we have drunk driving laws, we research and fund childhood cancer treatments, we have child abuse outreach and prevention services. I could go on. There are so many sensible laws we could put in place that wouldn’t affect law abiding citizens in he least, but could keep guns out of the wrong hands…like closing the background check loophole, for example. We owe this to our kids!
Thank you so much for this amazing piece, Kelly! The fact that 8 children and teens are killed daily by gun violence is absurd. This is like a Sandy Hook happening every 2 days. Action is needed to stop this killing of our children. Call your lawmakers and tell them enough is enough!
My 5 year old granddaughter is starting Kindergarten this fall. Many weeks ago we had told her she would need to gets shots. Yesterday I mentioned school and she burst out crying and said”I do not want to get shot!” For a brief moment I thought she was referring to being shot by a gun! How tragic that the reality of Sandy Hook resides always in my mind and that is the first place my mind went.She was referring to shots but I am sure the children in Sandy Hook or Columbine may take their minds to being mowed down by a gun.Our country has truly started to eat it’s young so everyone and anyone can have a weapon.
Comments are closed.