I woke up on Monday feeling refreshed. I was coming off a crazy work week and it was the first time in a long time that I had gotten more than five hours of sleep. And then I read the news.
For those of us who have been living under a rock (apparently), there was another senseless massacre caused by a white-male who had a cache of guns in his hotel room and decided to unleash hell on completely innocent people… FOR NO FUCKING APPARENT REASON. Again.
Every shooting is a horrific tragedy, and this one was no exception. Maybe it’s because of the pregnancy hormones; or maybe it’s because Vegas is very close, and going to a Vegas musical festival is very familiar; or maybe it’s because this time the shooting I actually did know people who knew someone who was injured or killed and that six degrees of separation just felt way too fucking close; or maybe it’s just enough is enough.
There’s been 1518 mass shootings since Sandy Hook— and for those of us who need a refresher on that one, that was the shooting that targeted and killed children at a god-damn Elementary School. And yet, Congress did nothing. President Obama (who was President at the time) gave a heartfelt and teary-eyed speech (not to politicize, but it was way more gut-wrenching and genuine than our current President has ever offered in the face of tragedy). There’s been 340 mass shootings this year alone. And you know how I can come up with that number so easily? There’s a fricken website called Mass Shooting Tracker (.org) — that’s how common it is. And yet, gun control seems to be something the entire country can agree on. There was a recent poll that said 90% of Americans are in favor of tighter gun control laws (men, women, rich, poor, Democrat, Republican). So, at least the majority of us can agree that killing each other with a weapon is BAD.
So, why can’t we pass gun laws? Why can’t we even get enough support from our elected officials to have a real conversation about stricter gun laws? They just passed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, so clearly they don’t have an issue about taking away people’s rights arbitrarily? So what is the fucking problem? I’ll spell it out for you: N. R. A.
Part of the reason it’s so hard to pass any legislature when it comes to gun control is because the government can’t research gun violence because of N.R.A. lobbying (http://www.newsweek.com/government-wont-fund-gun-research-stop-violence-because-nra-lobbying-675794) But, more so than that, the NRA is one of the most powerful and influential lobby groups in the U.S., spending an average of 250 million a year (way more than the gun control advocacy groups are able to), and 3 million of that alone is spent on influencing gun policy. They even have a grading system for all the members of congress and those grades can greatly influence elections, and cost elected officials their jobs.
And that just plain sucks.
But we can’t despair. Yes, it is extremely frustrating that our congress did nothing after Sandy Hook (and every time since) but that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually. Progress unfortunately takes time. And at the state level, some progress is being made. Yesterday, even the NRA endorsed tougher rules on the device the Vegas gunman used, which is a small step, but a step nonetheless. And until we’re able to reform the laws, we have to keep vocalizing and expressing our heartbreak. I debated about writing this because I thought there was no way you wanted to read another opinion piece about gun control. But, complacency doesn’t get shit done.
So, keep writing and retweeting about how upset you are and want things to change. Keep calling your congress members and complaining. Keep brainstorming ideas about how to change things (one friend actually joined the NRA, and my husband has a list of ideas on how to change the laws, including charging an exorbitant amount for bullets, which is pretty brilliant). And keep spreading love. We all need it.