Indeed. Our leaders do not have the necessary courage to do the right thing. That is why the bus came to Minnesota.The event was meant to call attention to the number of people shot by bullets since 12/14. Sami Rahamim reminded us that the number is now just over 7500 and still increasing.The number should be frightening and concerning to Americans. The gun lobby hates this campaign. They don't like victims because reading their names and showing their photos makes the shootings very real and the public may then feel the need to get involved to stop the shootings. Since 20 small children were massacred on 12/14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a different spotlight has been lit on shootings in general and on shootings of children in particular. The nation wept with the families of these children and then Congress failed to act. Why would we not want to protect our children after what happened last December? I wrote my last post about efforts to get more kids to use and shoot guns and also about irresponsible adults who leave guns out intentionally or accidentally where curious kids find them and use them. The gun rights extremists got pretty exercised about that post. They insist that they are careful with their guns and that children need to be taught to use guns and respect them. While that may be true for some, there are just too many children who lose their lives because of a gun. Gun safety is one thing. Making sure guns are not cavalierly left out, loaded and ready to shoot, is another. Too many law abiding gun owners are not responsible. Guns are dangerous and designed to kill other people. Teaching kids to shoot a gun is different than teaching them how to swim or ride a bike. It is serious business and it doesn't always work out so well. Does anyone remember the young boy whose father thought he should be able to shoot a machine gun at a gun show? I do.Speaking to the crowd gathered Wednesday morning, city council member Don Samuels decried the failure of such legislation to pass.“A few years ago a child in our state swallowed a small lead pendant off a sneaker,” he said. “And within a year Congress changed laws to make it illegal to put a lead pendant on a piece of clothing. And yet every year lead pendants shaped in cylindrical form invade the bodies of our children involuntarily and we do not have the courage to change any laws in their interest.”
But I digress. Below is a video from one of the local T.V. media outlets about the event:
I read the names of people who were shot on Christmas Day of 2012. It was startling to realize how many families got news of a loved one's death while celebrating a holiday ( if they do celebrate the holiday that is). One of the victims was a 2 year old. How did that child die? It didn't say. One was an 87 year old man. How did he die? It didn't say.
While at the rally I spoke with Carlee Soto. We two belong to an exclusive club- that of sisters who have lost a sister to a bullet. We didn't join willingly. In fact, at the rally, many of the speakers talked about how all the people who were there as victims or survivors were there by a tragic happenstance. None of us thought we would be attending events like this or telling our stories as we have done many times. I am so impressed that Carlee was able to tell her story about her sister without crying. It is a difficult thing to speak the name and feel the loss of someone you loved dearly.
The No More Names bus will be traveling to other places where mass shootings have occurred and/or where Congress members are reluctant to sign on to a simple background check bill. Why would anyone be opposed to a background check for all guns sales? Why would anyone be opposed to background checks at gun shows and on the Internet, excluding other private sales? The question needs to be asked and answered. There is no good answer to the question. The answer is that too many of our lawmakers are beholden to the corporate gun lobby. Too many of our lawmakers are afraid to stand up for what they know is right because of fear of retribution or losing their seats. What happened to common sense and integrity? When this many die from any other cause in America, we get to work and figure out how to reduce or prevent the deaths and injuries. That is how we ended up with mandatory seat belt laws. That is why we ended up with no smoking in public laws. That is why we have speed limits and insist on months of driver's education and behind the wheel training. That is why we have hard to open bottle caps on medicines. That is why we have child locks for cupboards. That is why we require yards with pools to have fences. That is why we have recalls of cribs and children's toys. It's all about saving lives. What's wrong with that again? I'm waiting for the answer.
Some of the speakers referred to the number of people who have to have background checks to perform certain jobs or to work with children. Adopting a pet requires a background check. A teaching job requires a background check. At my church, anyone who works with kids and/or does overnight trips with children has to have a background check. Medical professionals have to get background checks. I could go on. But the reason for these checks is simple. We are trying to protect citizens from harm from another human being who may not have the best interests of others in mind or who may have committed a crime or has been a sexual abuse offender, etc. The bottom line is safety. Our children should be able to be safe from those who would harm them. Our citizens should be safe from the devastation that gun violence is causing in our communities. That is what this is all about. Nothing more, nothing less. Let's get to work and make the changes necessary to keep us all free from gun violence. Let's not continue to read names of those who have been shot and are shot every day in our communities.
We are better than this.
I would like to add a footnote to this post. The Senate has, at long last, confirmed the first ever appointed Director of the ATF- Todd Jones, current Minnesota U.S. Attorney. The NRA lobbyists and their minions have fiercely opposed appointing a director to the organization that monitors and enforces gun laws. Why? I guess they don't like laws to be enforced. This is good news for the country and for public safety. Todd Jones is a man of integrity and the qualifications necessary to run the ATF. I had the privilege to meet him once and found him to be an engaging and interested in dealing with the many challenges before him. I met him at a victims day event at the national ATF building in Washington D.C. He was clearly very caring towards the victims and the ATF officers who were involved in the cases that were highlighted at the gathering. Congratulations to Todd Jones. I wish him well.