Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working: One Father's Plea for Gun Reform
One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control
My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.
Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.
How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.
In the United States, there have been more shootings in 2019 than days in the year. And this is exclusively an American problem. Car accidents. Cancer. Addiction. There are so many devastating ways to lose a child that are out of our control. But the one thing that is within our control is the one we do nothing about. Here's a sobering fact: Guns kill more children in the U.S. than Cancer. Let that sink in.
I promise you my intention here isn't to come off preachy or to politicize these horrific events, but I disagree when people say this is a non-partisan issue. It's very much a partisan issue. Democrats in congress desperately want and try to put policies in place that will help keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them. The current administration blame everything but guns and keep blocking this gun legislation in the Senate. The no-brainer legislation that Democrats in Congress keep fighting for would expand background checks, enlist "red-flag" laws and ban assault weapons. Bill Clinton banned assault weapons in 1994 and mass shootings dropped 43%. Then, in 2004, the GOP let the ban expire and mass shootings went up over 230%.
Why won't Republicans do something that will clearly reduce this US-based form of terrorism? Because of money. Lawmakers in congress receive copious amounts of money from far-right backers like the NRA. And the NRA has spent 1.6 million dollars lobbying against background check expansion laws in the months leading up to the latest mass shootings.
I have a question for the people who have blocked sensible gun measures — fathers like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and John Boehner…
How many dollars is your child worth?
Shame on these individuals, and on all the selfish assholes out there who keep screaming about their rights to personal arsenals while innocent people get gunned down. To think of so many parents losing so many children to something fundamentally preventable is shattering in its weight. And these cowards are to blame. But we all bare some of the responsibility. Gun reform doesn't happen because Americans don't want it enough. If we did, we wouldn't just accept it — we would do something about it. Until we all vote with the same unwavering intensity of the money-hungry sellout Republicans in congress, or until Democrats have total control of government, the base for unregulated gun access will always be more powerful than the constituency for gun control. That's why we ALL must do our part.
I'm going to say something else that might piss off certain people, but I don't care, it needs to be said. Any American that doesn't support advanced background checks is the very person we don't want owning guns. If you are a law-bidding citizen with a registered gun, no prior record and you are in good mental condition, you should have no problem supporting gun reform. YOU are not the problem... but doing nothing to help makes you complicit, and therefore, part of the problem.
No single legislation will solve this entire crisis, but even if stricter gun reform measures prevent just one innocent child's death, won't it all be worth it? If that child is yours, the answer is yes. Well, we have to act like all these deaths are ours. We have to treat all these murders as if they are happening to our family, in our community.
This isn't just happening to other people. It's happening to all of us. We are all El Paso. We are all Dayton. We are all Parkland. We are all Thousand Oaks. We are all Orlando. We are all Aurora. We are all Sandy Hook.
We have to feel the pain that these broken families feel. Because if we all collectively take on their hurt, anger, frustration and desperation, maybe we'll finally be heard… and get courageous Republican politicians to finally stand up and do the right thing.
It's literally worth a shot.
I am tired of feeling "lucky" to have made it home from a trip to Target alive… or a concert… or a Farmer's Market... or a movie theater. I am tired of worrying that the next one is going to affect my immediate family. I don't want my 8-year old son growing up in this version of America. A country where kids at elementary schools have active shooter drills. Is this what they mean when they say: make America great again?
And to all the Republicans who say "Guns don't kill people; people kill people"— stop. It's a stupid argument and you know it. Obviously, it starts with intent and that comes from the sick person's mind, but readily available and accessible guns make it a lot easier for mentally ill people to kill other people in great numbers. How many times do we hear about mass-stabbings? Seriously, stop saying it. It just makes you look simple.
How much more half-hearted talk will we have to sit through – and how many more precious lives will be lost in the meantime – before Congress finally acts? We must come together and turn our collective anger into vocal activism… to make congress wake up and stop ignoring this national emergency. We can't let more families be ripped apart by gun violence.
Now, please join me in the fight. All of our lives depend on it.
Here are 5 simple things we can all do right now to help make a difference:
DONATE TO A GUN REFORM GROUP:
CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS
One quick phone call can be very effective. Visit this website to see who represents you in the U.S. Congress. https://whoismyrepresentative.com Once you call, let them know that you are a constituent, that you vote for candidates that make gun reform a priority and that you expect to see them take strong action on common sense gun reforms like Universal Background Checks.
WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER
It is easy. Find your local paper, learn how to send a "letter to the editor", and then send it. Click here for sample letters. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/direct-action/letters-to-editor/main
FACEBOOK YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
Find your representative on facebook and send them a message. It's easy.
For example: Dear Representative, I am your constituent and I vote. I am horrified about the gun violence epidemic in America and want action now. Specifically, I want to see legislation supporting Universal Background Checks on all gun sales.
REGISTER TO VOTE AND THEN VOTE
The NRA has 5 million members and when the NRA tells them who to vote for guess who the members for vote? NRA sponsored and NRA rated candidates. The NRA has the power to go to politicians and give them what they want. 1) Money and 2) votes. So you've got to make sure you register to vote! Do it here, now. https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote