“This is a letter I should have written three years ago.”
I’m not usually very passionate on one side or the other of political issues, and when I am, you often won’t hear me groaning about it in writing, because 1) I don’t feel that it’ll do much, and 2) I am confident that someone invested enough will guide policy towards the best or at least an acceptable outcome. Yes, a poor attitude, but it’s probably not unique. But this week, I’ve just about had it. And I mean had it.
I thought I had had it when the Aurora shootings changed the simple act of going to a movie. Or when “a very angry man” killed 20 children and their teachers in the space of five minutes. Or earlier this year, when a shooting I can’t even remember compelled me to sign up for a list serve or two and figure out how I could get involved. This blog was supposed to feature a series on gun violence but that never materialized. What did materialize were more shootings, mass and otherwise. What did materialize was my realization that it has been three years since twenty six-year-olds were shot in a matter of minutes along with teachers and staff who tried to protect them. I don’t know what your biggest fear was growing up, but this was my recurring nightmare ever since my first lockdown drill in the fifth grade. Despite my horror, I was convinced something would be done. The people were furious. Members of Congress were energized and ready to write bills. Obama seemed determined.
So let me remind you: Here we are, three years later. Has there been any significant changes towards just tipping the balance more towards gun control, away from the deadly status quo? No. Has there been dillydallying (Congress), beyond reasonable lobbying (the NRA), and preposterous arguments against action (“if only they’d been armed”, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun…”)? Yes.
I must say, I’ve never lost faith in my country before, not even the Iraq blunder or the financial crisis, because there was an element of explanation for why we made mistakes. But I don’t get this. This is idiotic.
What prompts my move is that before we could even have a full conversation about what happened in Colorado Springs, where I lived once upon a time, another, deadlier shooting happened in San Bernardino, just thirty miles from somewhere else I lived once upon a time. Does anyone even remember Colorado Springs? Or Oregon? Or…oh Lord, more than a few months ago is too far back for me to recall.
So today I write a letter to Congress, something I’ve never done before, and we can #PrayforSanBernardino, but here is my prayer: that I will be heard among the loud, monied voices of a misguided few, that the political process can prevent my child being shot in their elementary school. And here’s what you ought to do: 1) Write your member of Congress, seriously, because it’s because they don’t hear from us that the minority oppresses the rest of us with death. 2) If you can’t or won’t do that, then at least go on Wikipedia and read about one mass shooting, such as Port Arthur or Columbine. The media paints it in such bland terms. The details will send a shiver down your spine that you won’t soon forget.
You’re not supposed to forget.