The hour is late. As I am writing this, I am keeping watch on the news to see if the Uvalde death and injury tolls are rising. So far, nineteen (19!!) children and 2 adults were fatally shot by an 18-year-old with a gun. At least 7 more people have been injured. The bodies are so badly damaged by gunshots that parents need DNA tests to identify the bodies of their children.
Lots of people have contacted me about the shooting. They want to know what to do and they almost always try to explain how they feel. This time, people are describing themselves as furious and nauseated.
I say “this time” because I remember well the school shootings at Thurston, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Umpqua, Parkland, and Sante Fe High School.
After Columbine in 1999, most people didn’t realize how powerful the gun lobby had become in the United States. They had no idea that key legislators would protect the financial interests of the gun industry over the lives of people–every single time, any day of the week.
After Sandy Hook in 2012, people were beside themselves with grief. They said, “Now. Surely now Congress will take action.” But Congress didn’t.
After Parkland, people were beside themselves with grief and rage. The rage was because these preventable deaths were happening more frequently and killing more kids.
Now it’s the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde. People are furious and they are nauseated. I think it’s because they know that Citizens United (money is free speech) and the gun industry immunity law (PLCAA) ensure that gun sellers and gun manufacturers will never be held accountable. People rightly fear that justice will never prevail and laws won’t change because the gun lobby owns enough legislators on both sides of the aisle to block laws, even the laws supported by a majority of gun owners.
But we can change. There are things we can do–we must do. Right now in Oregon, a small organization called Lift Every Voice Oregon (LEVO) is fighting to place an initiative petition called IP 17 on the November 2022 ballot. IP 17 requires people who want to buy a gun to acquire a license first. The licensing process requires appearing before a licensing agent, completing hands-on firearm training as well as classroom training, and completing a background check. (No more illegal buying a gun through a loophole.) IP 17 also limits ammunition magazine size to 10 rounds. (People hunting large game like elk in Oregon are limited to 5 rounds. Shooters hunting people have no ammunition limit. We show more compassion to elk than to a classroom full of kids.)
Let’s be honest: the Oregon legislature has had several chances to pass legislation similar to IP 17 but didn’t. The only way Oregon will get these laws passed is to do it ourselves on the November 2022 ballot.
The hour is late. The country is awash in guns and our kids are headed off to school again in the morning.
Hug your kids.