Another week and our nation has been rocked by another tragedy. Tonight, families in Texas will sit down to dinner with empty seats at their tables and watch the clock tick toward bedtime with no children to tuck in. Children, whose parents fed and held and rocked to sleep and loved for more than a decade. And now, these parents will never again cook a favorite meal for their child, hold them in their arms, or pull covers up to their tiny chins and kiss their foreheads goodnight.
How, how, how. How have I sent my own kindergartener off to school the last few days and watched him get out of the car each morning with that plaguing feeling in the back of my head and sinking sensation in my stomach? Assuring myself, he is safe. Assuring myself, I will pick him up at the end of the day. Assuring myself, I will continue to cook his favorite meals and tuck him in each night.
But isn’t that what the families of the 19 children who were murdered in their elementary classroom earlier this week also assured themselves of?
Heartbroken, outraged, devastated, shocked. There are plenty of emotions we can name. Yet, we can’t seem to name what happened or a way forward. It was “unspeakable.” We have “no words.”
I, too, feel hopeless and discouraged and defeated that this has happened yet again.
How, how, how do we put an end to this? How do we prevent more families from having to stare at empty chairs across dinner tables? How do we stop the loss of innocent lives?
We have to use our voices. We have to speak. We have to share and write words. And we need to do so in a way that is a catalyst for change, instead of a reason for further division.
As I’ve chased these thoughts around my head the past two days there are moments where I have felt like there isn’t a point in writing anything. That anything I say will just be adding to the noise. As though, there is a giant volume dial that is turned up after every tragedy, people shouting in outrage, but slowly, as time passes, that volume dial is turned back down, and all the while, the same channel keeps playing.
We need to change the channel.
How do we do that?
I’m no expert in policy reform. If you are, please share more actionable ways we can move toward change. I’m just a citizen who is shattered from seeing scores of innocent people murdered in my country. I’m just a mom who worries about my kids when I send them out into the world each day. When I think of protecting the lives of my children and all of those across this country, I think a good place to begin is improving gun safety.
To improve gun safety, new laws need to be made. For a law to be made, a bill has to be passed by the House, the Senate, and approved by the President. Legislation to improve gun safety has been passed by the House for over two years but has failed to rise to a vote in the Senate due to a stalwart. We need to contact our Senators.
How to contact your senators to improve gun safety:
Email your state senators.
Legislation to improve gun safety has been passed by the House but has not come to a Senate vote due to a stalwart. With Senate support, this legislation could be one step closer to becoming a law and preventing the loss of more innocent lives.
Find your state senators here.
What to ask your state senators to improve gun safety.
Below is a template of what I (a non-expert on policy reform) sent my state senators.
Good Evening Senator _________,
My name is _______________ and I am a constituent from _CITY_, _STATE_ (ZIP).
I am devastated by the continued loss of innocent lives on American soil and the lack of a Senate vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. I ardently request you please support a vote on the passage of these two acts.
I also urge you to take action toward reinstating an assault weapons and high-capacity magazine ban, along with enacting/continuing to uphold* “red flag” laws.
Thank you for your time and commitment to protecting the lives of our loved ones.
What does all of that mean?
- H.R. 8. H.R.8, also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, requires a background check for every firearm sale. A version of this bill passed in the House over two years ago but has yet to pass in the Senate.
- H.R. 1446. H.R. 1446, also known as the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, strengthens gun safety by requiring 10 days between the point of sale of a firearm and possession. Many states, including Florida, have a 3-day waiting period between purchase and possession to allow background checks to be conducted. However, currently, after those 3 days pass, possession can take place, even if a background check has not been completed.
- Reinstate an assault weapons ban/ ban high-capacity magazines. Not too long ago, America had an assault weapons ban in place. From 1994 to 2004, 18 models of assault weapons, and high-capacity magazines (any magazine capable of holding more than 10 bullets), were banned. When this ban was in place, gun massacres and fatalities fell by staggering numbers.
- *Enact/Uphold “Red Flag” Laws. “Red Flag” Laws, also known as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” allow family, friends, and police officers to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of individuals who have expressed intent to harm themselves or others. Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C., have “red flag” laws. In April 2021, the President urged Congress to pass a national “red flag” law.
Speak up. Use your words. Cast your vote.
Please, write to your senators. Vote in upcoming primaries. Use your voice to name and honor the victims. Speak up and encourage others to act. Share your words to shelter everyone who walks our streets, protect all patrons who shop at our grocery stores, and shield those who cannot defend themselves: our children.
The tragedy in Uvalde is horrible and unspeakable, but we must speak to try to prevent this horror from happening again.