Due to the season and a number of events in my personal life, I’m not in a happy place. Recent events have not made things better. For a couple of reasons the most recent shooting in San Bernardino hits close to home. It took place at a Regional Center, which is how services for the developmentally delayed and handicapped are provided by the state of California. My son has used their services, and although we’ve rarely gone to the actually center in recent years, the social work staff there have taken excellent care of him, and hearing that bullets were flying in a place like that is unnerving to say the least.
This is a situation that certainly requires comfort (like thoughts and prayers), but also action. I say this as a person of a particular faith, Unitarian Universalism, which believes that while thinking and mediating is a good thing, you back it up with your actions. Since there is a long history of activism in the church (civil rights, helping Jewish refugees in WW II, etc.) we’re pretty comfortable with trying to do good. For those who are not in an activist denomination, I’ll share this scene from “West Wing” where Karl Malden points out the limits of a over-reliance on prayer over action because sometimes we need to step up to do God’s work, and not pray for him to do ours.
What would that work look like? Anyone who reads my Facebook status updates will know how about I feel about gun violence. I think we need a lot more gun safety regulations. Rather than argue for a weapons ban, mandatory licensing for all weapons. let’s start with a few simple things that could pave the way for policy based in fact and science, instead of anecdote and fear. The United State government has forbidden government funding of studies on gun violence. This should end. Now.
I’ll sometimes see gun rights supporters in my Facebook feed commenting on the fact that cars kill more people. To which I will reply that my husband worked in transportation safety, specifically making streets safer for walking and biking. Because of this, I know that automobile death rates are going down. Part of that is due to public safety campaigns aimed at making driving safer. The move is now on to make it safe to be on the streets as a pedestrian or bicyclist. It’s being studied from a public health perspective. If looking at automobile safety from a public health perspective helped lower the death rate there, surely it could offer some insights into gun deaths. Incidentally, gun deaths may soon eclipse death by automobile among young adults.
What can you do?
- Call your congressperson. If they are NOT responsive, think about voting in someone new.
- This may be a long haul. Many congressional districts are gerrymandered, so this may take a couple of election cycles and a new census.
- Participate in elections, and support measures to have independent commissions setting congressional district boundaries.
- Support candidates that support gun safety, even modest changes would help at this point.
- Vote like it matters, the fact is the majority of Americans support some forms of gun safety legislation, the only reason that the NRA has an iron grip on this issue is that they have a lot of money, and their members will vote on this issue alone because it seems to matter more to them. We need to make preventing 6 year olds getting shot to pieces by an AR-15 matter more to enough voters to change that.