Dear MoveOn member,
Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. And now Parkland.
They all used to be schools. Now they are sites of massacres.
The grief I feel for the students, teachers, and families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is only matched by the rage of knowing that yesterday's tragedy was the 18th school shooting in the United States this year.1 And it's only February.
This does not happen anywhere else in the world. Only here. And while Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers again send out their "thoughts and prayers," I know that, as always, they will fall in line with the NRA and refuse to take any action that will make this stop.
Enough is enough.
At least 17 people lost their lives yesterday. Kids. High school students with their entire lives ahead of them. Stolen from their families and the world by a lone gunman with an AR-15.
Just like the 26 people in a church in Texas. The 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas. The 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando. The 20 first graders and six teachers at an elementary school in Newtown. Tragedies so frequent that we can't even name them all.
The arc of our national response to each of these horrors—the grieving, anger, and "thoughts and prayers"—is by now terribly familiar. As is the absolute refusal by Republicans to enact any gun control legislation in the aftermath of these tragedies.
And that's even though a vast majority of Americans want more sensible laws to prevent gun violence, such as the 91% of Americans—and 74% of NRA members—who support legislation requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.2 And the 80% of Americans who want to see assault weapons taken out of the hands of civilians.3
Even after the Las Vegas massacre, when Republican members of Congress proposed a limited reform—banning bump stocks—the legislation went nowhere. Instead, the first gun-related legislation Congress considered after that act of mass gun violence was a bill to increase guns on our streets, at concerts, and near schools.4
Practically the only people that do not support any form of legislation to stop gun violence are the employees of the NRA and the Republican politicians who they own.
This tiny group of people are holding the rest of our lives hostage. The blood is on their hands.
MoveOn members have successfully confronted the NRA before:
- After the 2015 campus shooting in Oregon, a group of gun-owning MoveOn members stood up to demand stricter gun laws. Among these 30,000 gun owners, a group of 12 came to Washington, D.C., and met with President Obama's team, and then several of these MoveOn members stood with President Obama when he signed executive actions to curb gun violence in 2016—demonstrating that we can make progress when we stand together.
- After the massacre in Las Vegas, MoveOn members declared we would stand up to the NRA's mythic power in Virginia elections—then just weeks away. (Virginia is where the NRA is headquartered.) We threw ourselves into that get-out-the-vote effort along with so many others. Democrats, including progressive Democrats, prevailed in an election outcome that showed that Republicans and, yes, even the NRA, can be beaten.
- And we've continued to elevate the voices of champions—from gun-owner Mark Carman whose honest, self-produced, rapid-response videos have been seen many millions of times, to former representative Gabby Giffords, to Sen. Chris Murphy, who led a filibuster on the Senate floor to demand action on gun violence. We've spread their messages with videos and social media posts that have reached tens of millions of people.
When we're the only nation that witnesses this particular type of horror with such frequency, we can't claim there's no way to tackle this problem.
It is not too soon to talk about how to stop this from happening again. It is not too soon to talk about holding elected officials accountable. It is not too soon to mobilize.
But it's too late if we don't act right now.
Thanks for all you do.
–Anna, Kelly, Robert, Ben, and the rest of the team
2. "Polling on Background Checks/Gun Shows/Private Sales," Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, last accessed February 14, 2018
3. "Poll: Majorities Of Both Parties Favor Increased Gun Restrictions," NPR, October 13, 2017
4. "Three Weeks After Las Vegas, Legislation to Ban Bump Stocks Has Stalled Out in Congress" The Daily Beast, October 23, 2017
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