“In December 2012, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 20 children, six adults, and himself. Since then, there have been at least 1,607 mass shootings, with at least 1,846 people killed and 6,459 wounded.” (https://www.vox.com/a/mass-shootings-sandy-hook) Here is a map that shows the locations of these 1607 mass shootings.
We are not sure why but the 1607th one has had a profound impact on us. What happened in Parkland FL made us, we are ashamed to say for the first time, realize that our grandchildren, especially the 17 who attend school in the United States, could have found themselves in that same situation because almost nothing has changed since Sandy Hook. Actually, that is not quite true since access to military-style weapons, really guns of any type, has increased rather than declined. (New York is an exception. Within two months of Sandy Hook, the legislature passed, and the governor signed an assault weapon ban along with a limitation of the capacity of magazines for those purchased before January 2013. The original capacity was set at seven, but a court case found that arbitrary and set it at 10. Magazines with a capacity of up to 30 and more are easily available in most other states.) But as a nation we talked and then did almost nothing. We can now see the results of doing nothing.
Perhaps it was thinking about our grandchildren. Perhaps it was hearing words that used to have meaning to us become hollow and meaningless and even disrespectful: “We’ll keep them in our thoughts and prayers.” Perhaps it was hearing those young survivors and the parents of those who died speaking of the unspeakable. Bill was moved to tears listening to a father and young survivor expressing their thoughts to the President on the evening news. For whatever reason, we can no longer do nothing. God forbid that these shootings have become so commonplace that we have gotten used to them. As long as they don’t happen in our city or our school, we express outrage and then move on to the next thing. And there is always a next thing.
If we ignore this or distract ourselves with all the things and activities available to us, we am no different from the politicians who cynically say one thing and then do another. This is a bipartisan phenomenon. It includes Democrats who introduce all the “right kind” of laws but then sacrifice principle to political expediency because they fear political backlash that will compromise other issues they consider more important or will make it difficult to attract centrist voters so they can regain power. It includes Republicans who take millions from the gun lobby and are petrified that their support of any action which that lobby does not approve will generate a primary opponent who is well funded and ideologically pure. At least one can count on Libertarians to deplore what has happened and to make clear that they will not support any further intrusion of the government, especially at the federal level, into the lives of citizens.
We have taken three actions. They are not big, perhaps even puny considering the problem. But we have finally done something. We encourage you to consider this whole issue and to ask yourself, “Can I just do nothing and wait for it to happen again?” We realize that many of the people receiving this email have already done more than we could possibly hope to do. We appreciate that some of you may find our actions and advocacy to be things with which you disagree. But surely we must do something rather than just hope that it won’t happen again.
Here is what we have done. First, Bill tried to write down our feelings and thoughts about all this and then used this as the content of contacting our federal, state and county representatives urging them to take action appropriate to their level. (We have attached a copy of that document.) Here are the four requests we made to those at the federal level:
- If you receive financial support from the NRA, return it and publicly state that fact and your reasons for returning.
- Introduce or co-sponsor legislation to re-establish the assault weapon ban that expired in 2004.
- Introduce or co-sponsor legislation to buy back any assault weapon for its fair market value.
- Introduce or co-sponsor legislation to permit the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence as the public health issue it clearly is. I understand that such a study is currently excluded by legislation. This is another example of the NRA’s influence.
Second, with our 20 grandchildren and our four children who work on campuses in mind, we are contributing to the Giffords Law Center to Reduce Gun Violence. We are no longer convinced that donations to politicians will achieve any meaningful result.
Third, we are trying to become more educated about this issue. We have learned a lot about the New York situation in just the last two days. Things we should have known but didn’t.
It feels different this time and perhaps whatever might be done—and we might differ on what that is–can have some impact.
Bill and Marilyn