People were murdered last week. And it was my fault.
Last Friday night, a mentally ill man stabbed his roommates and then, with a gun, proceeded to murder college women on the street.
And it was my fault.
Why was it my fault, you ask. I wasn’t there. I don’t know these people. I don’t support acts of violence and terror.
Or do I?
Actually, I do. And you do, too. Because we do nothing to stop them.
Of course, not “nothing.” We Tweet our outrage. We post links to articles on Facebook that move us to tears for four minutes, until we have moved on to something else.
We, of course, personally untouched by the tragedy of the moment, can move on to something else. Mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children and lovers of those who are murdered, of course, are not so lucky. Their entire lives are destroyed, love split and shattered and broken on sidewalks and in classrooms and movie theaters.
And it happens again and again–and it happens because people like you and I didn’t do enough.
All that is necessary, as the quote goes, for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
We are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children and lovers who don’t want to stand next to a coffin being lowered into the ground not at the end of a fully-lived life, but at the end of a life that was brutally cut short by an arbitrary bullet–by a horribly troubled soul with a gun.
But we don’t do anything about it. We repeat pat statements about the Second Amendment–which, by the way, says nothing about semi-automatic or assault weapons, or the right to murder children in schools. We shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, the NRA is too powerful,” or “It’s the fault of politicians, not my fault.”
Yes, the gun lobby is remarkably powerful in our country. Can we fight it? Can we make a point of lobbying to get politicians in the pocket of the NRA out of office? To support politicians willing to be brave?
Can we fight it if we are determined enough, if we have the attention span that extends further than 140 characters? If we have the courage of our convictions? I believe the answer is yes. Can we reach a solution where at least–at least!–assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons cannot easily be acquired by private citizens?
Do I believe this is worth doing if it prevents even one more family from mourning? Yes, I do.
Years ago, no one would have believed that women would have the right to vote, much less hold some of the highest offices in the country.
Years ago, no one would have believed that segregation would end in the South, much less that a black man could be President.
Years ago, no one would have believed that gay men and women would gain the right to legally marry.
And yet, they have.
And they have because people saw how strong the opposition was, and they looked it in the eye and said, “I’ll be damned if I sit down in the face of the status quo–because this is evil, and it is my time to speak up.”
I don’t want any more blood on my hands.
Here are some comparatively easy things you and I can do:
1. One of the victim’s fathers, Richard Martinez, has asked for everyone in America who is sick of these tragedies to send a postcard to their elected representative simply saying, Not One More. This takes two minutes, tops, and can easily be done by clicking this link.
2. Join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; you can like them here on Facebook. They are a clearinghouse for ways to act. You can find other resources at Gabby Giffords’ American’s for Responsible Solutions and the Brady Campaign. These venues will send you information for local opportunities to act.
3. Join a local chapter of an anti-gun violence group near you. You may be surprised to learn that your synagogue may have one.
4. Sign a petition conveying your feelings to elected officials.
5. Any time there is a local election in your area, research the politicians involved. Find out who is beholden to the NRA and who is not. You can set up phone calls or meetings with your elected officials; make it clear that this is a crucial issue for you and your family. Make your voice heard.