Here is the bipartisan statement of purpose of the background check bill, direct from the US Senate website:
To protect Second Amendment rights, ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process.
In other words, let’s work harder to prevent criminals from buying guns.
Men with a history of domestic violence.
The criminally insane.
According to 45 US Senators (discounting Harry Reid who voted no for procedural reasons) these people’s rights to own guns trump my family’s right to be safe from them.
You know most of the excuses. Here’s another. And oh, it’s rich:
Think about that for a minute. It’s nothing short of reprehensible.
It’s also a lie. This has everything to do with following the money back to those who earn their living buying and selling guns. Or fear of the NRA supporting opposing candidates. Very little to do with “too much paperwork.”
We’re not stupid.
I read lots of frustrated, thoughtful, confused, infuriated, optimistic, super pisssed-off, inspiring, encouraging, humorous and sadly humorous tweets about it. But truly, like so many of us, it was Gabby Giffords’ op-ed in the New York Times that really got me.
Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.
It makes me wonder how we all react in the face of defeat. I know a formerly enthusiastic political advocate who became so embittered after the 2004 election and (alleged but not really) shenanigans in Ohio that he withdrew entirely from the system, from the campaign donations, from proceeding with optimism or hope in any way. And then I know people who push forward, determined to make their voices heard so that they are not drowned out by loud, vocal minorities with questionable motives.
I want so badly to be in the latter group. I want to be like Amanda Magee who tweeted Ok, mustering hope. Advocating for changes to gun regulation don’t end w/a non-vote. Stand back up, don’t attack, build support.
And so here I am, writing about one of the few topics that creates such irrational discourse, I have to cross my fingers when I hit publish that the conversation can remain civil.
If you feel like I do, whether you feel comfortable saying so publicly or not, here are some things you can do and organizations you can join, to keep pushing forward, making your voice heard, making sure that our elected officials know that they represent their constituents, and not the gun lobby.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America: This is a grassroots effort formed in the wake of the Newton massacre. More than just writing your own senator, they have a super simple form that allows you with one click, to send a thank you note to all the senators who voted in favor of the measures, and to send a shame on you note to the others. It takes about 2 minutes. And yes, they read these. And yes, it makes a difference. “I don’t like what you did and I vote” can be a very powerful words spoken to career politicians who should be more afraid of losing their jobs than losing the NRA contributions–for a job they may not have.
Texting and Tweeting: You can text MYVOICE to 877877 to a senator who ignored the voice of the people. You can also tweet that measure using the hashtag #myvoice
Join a Million Moms March Chapter: Now part of the Brady Campaign, click to join a local chapter. There are tons. All over the country. I look forward to seeing what we can do next through them.
Share a Personal Story or Tribute: This is one more effort of the Brady Campaign (love those guys) and it’s so simple to do. You can of course use your blog or social media profiles, but this is a nice way to connect to the greater majority of Americans who share your views.
Work at the Local Government Level: Mayor Bloomberg is pouring millions into his Mayors Against Gun Violence effort, which aims to preserve 2nd Amendment rights while keeping guns out of criminal hands. You can get more info at demandaction.org.
I know it’s just a start. There are so many ways we can keep from feeling helpless, afraid, defeated. Or more importantly–from actually being helpless, afraid or defeated. As Congresswoman Giffords wrote:
Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.
I definitely could not have written that better myself.