4.18.2013

Lament of the Johnny-Come-Lately

I've been involved enough with the campaign to enact stronger gun legislation that several people have expressed sympathy to me that not one but two imperfect yet far-better-than-the-alternative policies were voted down yesterday. The United States Senate did not get the sixty votes needed to approve of a watered-down background checks law. The Illinois House, which has been mandated by a federal court to adopt a Concealed Carry policy, voted down a strong one that included some extremely reasonable considerations, such as giving local law enforcement some input as to who is eligible to carry a weapon in public, and prohibiting guns from bars.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried when I heard the news.

It's not that I think stronger gun laws will prevent every single mass shooting or dramatically decrease the horrific violence in Chicago. I have said all along that I think legislation is one piece of a larger picture, which is the transformation of a violent culture. We are neither strengthening the law nor changing the culture if the NRA still has a tight enough grip on the political sphere that legislation overwhelmingly supported by Americans can still be caricatured, misrepresented, and shot down.

This would be funny if it didn't ring so true. I'd link to the other once that captures it but it's a bit salty for this family-friendly blog.

I don't have the right to be frustrated and defeated, not when I am a total Johnny-Come-Lately to this advocacy work. I certainly haven't earned any sympathy. Attending several rallies and vigils this year, including Chicago Crosswalk, I've heard many family members who have lost loved ones speak. I am humbled by their grief and commitment. I am particularly thinking of the man whose son was shot and killed in 1997, and has stood up at countless events, year after year, to beg for common sense reforms. Year after year after year. 

That's the man I'm crying for. And courageous, eloquent Gabby Giffords; if you read anything, read this. And the families who lost loved ones in all those places that used to just be places, but now have become shorthand for mass shootings. 

And the families who haven't lost loved ones yet, but will, because people who can't buy a gun from a licensed dealer because they can't pass a background check can still buy a shotgun on Craigslist with nary a question asked. 

Crying, and praying, and not quitting. 


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