If not now, when?

By Lauren Grimaldi

After each devastating mass shooting, we’re forced to wrap our minds around, many of us ask simple questions. We wonder why certain weapons are legal in the U.S. We may also look to countries like Australia whose gun laws have virtually eliminated the threat of mass shootings across the country. When 20 children were slaughtered in their elementary school just a few years ago, we hoped there would be change. But it seems as though even that was not enough. The number of shootings since then have only pushed gun control advocates and every sensible person towards stricter laws, but the tremendous apathy of our political leadership places a mountain the climb in the fight for change. Sutherland Springs is just the latest case of deadly political impassivity wreaking havoc on the very safety of the citizenry.

Far too often, the name of a newly devastated city or town trends on social media as a tribute to the fallen. Political leaders then tweet their “thoughts and prayers” to those afflicted in feeble attempts to see empathetic. But prayers do not stop someone with bad intentions from buying a gun. The Republican Party’s outright refusal to do more to stop senseless gun violence is inarguably tied to money. The National Rifle Association (NRA) donates thousands of dollars in campaign funds to virtually every Republican in Congress.

Gridlock is often the fault of both major parties. But this is simply not the case with matter of gun violence in America. The Republican in the White House and those controlling Congress are sitting idly by as we citizens sit as targets for senseless murder because they value monetary donations over each and every life they serve as public officials.

Though we can complain about the lack of response from the party in charge, we can focus some hope in the voices of the few real leaders our nation has left.

Chris Murphy, a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, released a passionate plea to his colleagues to work together for the common good of ending these massacres.

“As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself – how can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents,” Murphy writes.

Senator Murphy has been a strong advocate for gun control for quite some time. He represents where Sandy Hook took place just a few years ago. Following the shooting in Las Vegas in October, he posted a very direct message on his Twitter account aimed at his colleagues in Congress.
“To my colleagues: your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers. None of this ends unless we do something to stop it,” said Murphy.

Murphy is not the only democrat advocating for stricter laws, but his particular defiance in the wake of his coworker’s abundant indifference is welcome at a time of sorrow and frustration.

Unfortunately, gun control laws cannot be passed overnight. This bitter issue has virtually no chance to even being discussed with a Republican executive legislature focusing on their precious tax cuts for the rich. But the people have the power to continue to push their elected officials down the path of legitimate change. By organizing ourselves together to say enough is enough, we can elect individuals dedicated to passing gun control legislation and so much more.

If the elections across the country this past week tell us anything, many are frustrated with Republican leadership in both branches of government. Most notably in terms of gun control, former news anchor Chris Hurst beat his NRA-backed opponent Joseph Yost to win a seat in the state legislature of Virginia. Hurst’s girlfriend and colleague Allison Parker was shot and killed on live television in 2015. Hurst did not run a campaign that focused solely on gun control. But in defeating his staunchly pro-gun opponent, the NRA took a hit in power. These sorts of victories are what we need to see more of as we continue to hope for more sensible legislation from the federal government.

It won’t be easy, but change that saves lives almost never is. This must be the message as we look towards the 2018 midterm elections. We can all dream of a day when mass shootings seldom occur, but we must make this change happen ourselves until we can elect officials with the courage to pass the laws to do so.


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