Like most people with a heart, I was shocked and saddened by the recent school shooting in Florida. This was the 7th firearm attack during school hours in 2018, and the 5th resulting in injury or death. This was also the deadliest school shooting this year, resulting in the murder of 17 people.
As we all know, children being killed and injured by firearms is too commonplace in America. An average of 24 children are shot every day in the United States and in 2016, 1,637 young people were killed by firearms. And the saddest thing is, we all know in our guts that this type of school shooting will probably happen again, unless major gun control regulations are implemented. Which will be tough as long as the NRA maintains its stranglehold on Republican politicians.
In the 2016 election cycle, the NRA gave $5.9 million dollars to Republican candidates and $106,000 to Democrats. Many long serving Republican senators and Congressmen have received millions of dollars from the NRA throughout their tenure, money that helps them run their re-election campaigns and keep their jobs. As much as they tweet about their thoughts and prayers after mass shootings, these representatives are unlikely to do anything substantial when it comes to gun reform. They know where their paychecks come from, and they have no intention of biting the hand that feeds them.
But money is only part of the reason the NRA reigns supreme on the Hill. I've long been envious of how effective the NRA's calls to action are. At the first sign of an infringement on gun rights, the NRA mobilizes their 5 million members to call elected officials, send emails, and mail letters to Washington offices, urging politicians to vote to protect gun ownership.
And no one is immune from this. While interning for a Democratic Senator who isn't particularly pro-gun, I sorted through a stack of postcards as tall as me, each one from an NRA member in the state. These postcards weren't about any law the Senate was voting on. They were about a UN treaty on firearms, and each postcard warned the Senator not to ratify this treaty. If the Senator did, they may lose the votes of thousands of constituents who sent in enough postcards and emails to keep me busy for a month.
How many postcards did I sort through asking the Senator to sign the treaty? None.
This is where we can make an impact. I doubt any of my blog readers have $5.9 million they can donate to anti-gun elected officials (though if you do...what are you waiting for?) but we all have a phone and we all know how to email and write letters. If it's really true that 90% of Americans want universal background checks before someone can buy a gun, the phone lines of Congress should light up every day, from the moment the doors open to the moment they close. Interns should be sorting through rooms full of postcards from constituents asking for gun reform. Representatives should be as scared of their constituents who want gun control as they are of their constituents who are NRA members.
If you're passionate about gun control, if you want there to be changes at the federal level, you need to make your voice heard. Call your Senator and tell them you want universal background checks and an assault weapons ban now. Call your Congressman and let them know that they won't have your vote in November if they don't fight for gun control. Call Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), tell her you support the assault weapons ban she's been introducing in the 1990s, despite 1990s mansplaining and the insinuation that Dianne Feinstein (who only became the Mayor of San Francisco after a tragic double assassination of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk) doesn't know about the deadly characteristics of firearms.
You don't actually have to call Senator Feinstien, I just like to bring up that story as an example of how sexist men can be, to imply that a woman who rose to political prominence following a brutal workplace double murder doesn't know about gun violence.
You could also call Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who has spent the bulk of his political career fighting for gun control after the Sandy Hook shooting. But again, I'm mostly putting this here as a segue to my theory that Chris Murphy is going to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president. You heard it here first.
And you get the point. You have to call and write to your elected officials if you want to wrest some control back to the NRA. It does not matter if your Senator is very pro-gun or very anti-gun. Even anti-gun Senators receive mountains of mail from the NRA, urging them to vote against common sense gun control. Elected officials need to hear from the other side too if anything is going to change. So stop reading, and start calling.