If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
To the editor:
This past Saturday I’d planned on getting to the State Fair in the early morning but actually didn’t make it until close to 5 p.m. The reason for my delay was I opted to attend the Presidential Gun Sense Forum sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. I may not always make great decisions, but this was one.
This all-day event included separate discussions with each of 17 Democratic candidates on the topic of gun violence along with speeches by some of those involved in the movement. And, while listening to the candidates voice their concerns and plans was important and would have made the day worthwhile in of itself, it was the sharing of the personal stories by members within the audience when they asked questions that really had an impact. I was also pleased to see the reactions of the candidates to these stories. Three of these reactions really stood out to me.
Senator Kamala Harris went to a woman who was overcome by the emotions of sharing her story and just held her and quietly talked with her, much like you’d see in a church when a pastor goes into the congregation to comfort someone. Representative Tulsi Gabburd of Hawaii just stood in complete silence after a woman broke down telling her story—giving all a chance to absorb how this tragedy still affected the woman’s life. The silence spoke more than any words could have. Business entrepreneurial Andrew Yang broke down in tears as he “pictured that happening with my kids” when a woman shared how her 4-year-old daughter had been killed by a stray bullet and the twin brother watched.
In the conversations surrounding gun violence attention was given to the horrendous mass shootings, the need to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines as well as having universal background checks and waiting periods. Smart gun technology was discussed as well as a way to decrease suicides and accidental shootings.
The main things I took away from this besides the facts that we have candidates willing to speak up and that we have some organizations that are standing up to the NRA and others is this. We have the statistics. We have more mass shootings than any other civilized country. We have 100 gun-related deaths every day in the United States–far greater than any other country.
But gun violence isn’t about statistics–it’s about the victims, survivors, and those around them. It is about the people in our nation. Each of those deaths is about a person and the people who love them. The survivors and those who love the victim will live with that tragedy all their lives.
People in their communities gather around the survivors to offer them comfort and search to find ways to make sense of the tragedy. We would do the same here. Every shooting-death whether accidental or planned leaves family and friends with trauma that remains with them the rest of their lives.
No, it’s not about statistics. It’s about families, friends, and communities. We may not personally know the people, yet they are us. They have dreams for a full, safe life just as we do. Gun violence destroys that dream.
We as a country can do better. We as a country must do better. We as a country will do better.