GUNS, SCHOOLS AND KIDS, Part 7
ORGANIZING FOR A GUN-FREE CHILDHOOD
Whether your passion is recruiting and supporting candidates who will support gun control laws, or building common cause in local communities for gun-free zones, or raising money for educational efforts to create informed publics on behalf of reducing gun violence and its causes, I hope you’ll look into these organizations and find one to support – with participation even before dollars. Or that you’ll start the conversation among your neighbors and colleagues and children about what needs to be done in your own community – or school – or home. And then do it.
Americans for Responsible Solutions
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, a celebrated astronaut, founded Americans for Responsible Solutions to the rampant and senseless gun violence in our country. ARS raises funds for candidates for political office who are committed to regulating guns.
This one is personal for me: My daughter and I have shopped at the boutique linen store across the Tucson street from the Safeway where Rep. Giffords was gunned down at a “meet and greet” with her constituents. A friend had at the last minute canceled an appointment for that Saturday at the nail spa down the street. Just a regular street, with regular stores, on a sunny Arizona day. One of Giffords’ staffers and 16 other people were shot, six of whom, including a judge, died that day. Giffords herself suffered brain injuries requiring long years of therapy and giving up her seat in Congress. The press made much of the shooter’s history of mental illness and threatening demeanor; Arizona’s underfunding of mental health services briefly made the news. Calls for even tighter background checks and gun access were deemed to be “politicizing the tragedy.”
Gabby Giffords’ “district” is even bigger today as she and her husband Mark Kelly, the astronaut who logged the most days on the space station, transformed their loss into a new national organization to counter the NRA, call out a gun culture that rejects all legislative limits, and take on the NRA’s influence over Congress and state houses. ARS raises money to recruit and promote candidates who will advocate what they term “responsible solutions” to the gun culture. Check out their website to see whom they are backing in your state and how you can get involved to hold public officials’ feet to the fire once they’re elected.
Alliance for Gun Responsibility
Vision: A community safe from the devastating consequences of gun violence.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility "works to end the gun violence crisis in our community and to promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. Through collaboration with experts, civic leaders, and citizens, we work to find evidenced-based solutions to the crisis of gun violence in our community. We create innovative policy, advocate for changes in laws, and promote community education to reduce gun violence."
Everytown for Gun Safety Action
"Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund seeks to improve our understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it – by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge in the courts and the court of public opinion."
Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have joined to create Everytown for Gun Safety Action:
As mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg invited the mayors of America’s cities to join him in organizing to answer the National Rifle Association’s “report card” rating legislators on their stance (and votes) for or against gun control by creating a “report card” to inform voters which of their elected officials are working for gun control and gun safety. (My letter urging our mayor at the time to not only join with Bloomberg, but take a lead in this organization given Houston’s extraordinarily high incidence of gun violence, was answered with a form letter saying essentially “thank you for sharing your opinion, but I’m a gun owner……” After leaving office, the same mayor in an interview about the shootings at the Orlando night club said to the reporter that we have to do something about access to guns. Can that sensible position be said out loud only when a politician is safely out of office?
Mayors Against Illegal Guns asked candidates for House and Senate seats to fill out a 10-part questionnaire “clarifying their positions on issues like background checks and [ammunition] magazine limits.” Those already in office are rated for their past statements and legislative votes on gun-related issues. Their responses, according to the organization, are “used to rally voters for or against them accordingly.” We should follow their example in quizzing candidates about their stands on gun control and let them know their answers will affect our votes.
Sandy Hook Promise
Mission: Prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child.
The parents of the children murdered by a man armed with his own personal arsenal are the bravest people we could know. The nation was sure that the killing of these little children would move Congress to act immediately on gun control legislation that had for decades been stopped by the NRA. The NRA was so sure the deaths of these little children would prompt quick Congressional action that they immediately went on the assault, claiming in truly twisted press conferences that we needed more guns, not fewer, and in the hands of more people: If the teachers had been armed, their logic went, the children could have been saved. For once, the NRA seemed to lose its cool, to show fear – fear of losing control of the politicians it had courted and cultivated, intimidated and bankrolled.
In the end, the NRA won the legislative battles. But the parents of Sandy Hook rose above that tyranny to persist in their legislative efforts, in their advocacy for those “special provisions” we need to protect our kids. Just as they teach with such grace and strength what it means to grieve the loss of a child, they teach through Sandy Hook Promise, raising awareness, raising funds, raising voices. Their first actions were to create safe play spaces in honor of every child who died. On their children’s birthdays, on the anniversary of the shooting, on normal days when children should feel safe at school, the Sandy Hook parents remind the nation the work of making childhood free of gun violence is not finished.
"Moms as a collective voice on behalf of children’s well-being – health, safety, education for children; and policies supportive of families: family leave, etc. Sharing information on legislation, products, current issues; inviting collective advocacy through digital communications."
And I'm issuing an open request for readers to suggest others. Please comment and distribute widely!
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