I wasn’t sure why I felt so angry and so compelled to speak out against all this blather. I mean, there are plenty of issues to choose. Why this one? I don’t own a gun, so why is it important to me? I live in New Hampshire, grew up in upstate New York, both places where hunting is a part of the culture. I know when deer hunting season is and I’ve seen hunters in the woods all my life and never given it a second thought.
But I watched the shooting in Sandy Hook. Twenty-Six people died at the hands of Adam Lanza on that day, twenty of them were six year olds. They died at the hands of a very disturbed young man whose mother, a responsible gun owner by all counts, had an arsenal of legal weaponry in her home. She never dreamed her disturbed son would harm her. She figured, somehow, that teaching him about guns would help him. She figured wrong and twenty-seven people, twenty of them small children, died as a result.
I thought, after watching the terrible news out of Connecticut, after the tears and prayers and candles offered up for these families, that we would do something. Sandy Hook wasn’t the first mass shooting in my country. It wasn’t even the first in the year. Surely, we could see a connection between disturbed young men getting hold of assault weapons and gunning down innocents. Surely, we wouldn’t let these children die in vain.
We did nothing. The NRA and the gun folk said we could not. They offered up all kinds of reasons why we could not and why it would do no good to do anything at all and why we should have more guns and not less. Nothing was done and we had more mass shootings. In Oregon, in San Bernardino, in Orlando. Those are only the ones that come immediately to mind. There are more, twenty-three by a conservative count, so many that I’ve actually forgotten a few.
To say nothing was done is inaccurate, actually. Gun sales went up, particularly sales of AR-15 assault rifles. Some states made it easier for anyone to buy and carry a weapon. It did not, as the NRA suggested it would, make us safer.
But something changed in the winds with Orlando, the largest mass shooting yet. Fifty dead and things got noisy again. Gun proponents rolled their eyes as they always do. But this time Democrats, at least, began to stand up (or sit down) for sensible gun laws. They fought for crumb so miniscule it was laughable. Not even for actual legislation, just to get a vote on legislation. They did not succeed, but I hope they will continue to fight.
Yesterday, I got a link to this video from the folks at Sandy Hook Promise. It shows Chris Murphy giving a speech during the last few minutes of his historic filibuster last week.
Watch it and you’ll know exactly why I feel the way I do. Why we can’t give up the fight. Because, in the end, it does not matter if you think it’s your American right to be armed to the teeth, it does not matter that you just say no to gun safety laws with excuse after excuse. It does not even matter that we cannot completely expunge the blood of gun violence from our country. What matters is that we put the lives of innocents first, that we do what we can to protect our children.
Little Dylan Hockley, killed at Sandy Hook by a disturbed man who had access to an arsenal of weaponry, matters. Anne Marie Murphy was Dylan’s aide. In the last minutes of her life, she chose to comfort Dylan rather than run away. She did the most courageous thing, the best thing, she could do, even as that very thing meant her certain death. In light of this, the least we can do is stop making excuses. The least we can do is our level best to turn the tide of gun violence. We begin by sitting in. We begin by not giving up.