This morning we all woke up to learn that in under an hour, one man in Nevada had systematically massacred over 50 people, wounded over 500, and inflicted what will surely be life-long trauma on thousands. Las Vegas is now at the top of the list for most casualties in a mass shooting. More exact details are still to come, but we all knew something like this was possible; it feels like we were just waiting for it to happen.
We can’t just shrug our shoulders and exclaim that there is nothing we can do to stop dangerous, unstable people from committing senseless acts of violence. We can’t pretend like this is something that prayer or kind thoughts or heavy hearts can make better.
The 1994 federal Assault Weapons Ban successfully led to a decrease in total gun murders, and use of assault weapons in crimes declined by two-thirds over nine years. Yet since the ban expired in 2004, Congress has refused to reauthorize it, despite mass shooting after mass shooting in which assault weapons were the primary cause of carnage.
To make matters worse, there is currently legislation before Congress that would de-regulate gun silencers, and despite widespread opposition from police organizations, the NRA has thrown their full support behind it. Today, if someone wants to buy a silencer, they face “waiting times, a $200 transfer tax, and a record of purchases by federal law enforcement.” The Sportsman Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act would get rid of all of that.
A lot of people say that if Congress didn’t take action after Sandy Hook, then they won’t ever pass laws to make us and our children safer. I’m so drawn to that sentiment because there are so many days when it feels so true. But I can’t bring myself to genuinely think that.
Are we really going to force the majority of Americans to live their life in fear so that a radical fringe minority can stockpile devastating weapons of war? Are we really going to let tax cuts for the wealthy take precedent over accessible, comprehensive mental healthcare for everyone?
I refuse to admit defeat to the NRA. I refuse to sit quietly while they push false and derogatory portrayals about people of color in order to scare white people into buying more guns. I refuse to let them repeal legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, a crime that over 50 percent of mass murderers have committed. I refuse to let them succeed in de-regulating gun silencers, to let murderers kill people more quietly.
I will fight against a political system in which right-wing politicians are so corrupted by corporate weapons interests that they peddle in radical fringe conspiracies about the “government coming for your guns” just to justify their lack of action and keep campaign dollars and high profile endorsements coming in. Additionally, I will fight all of their attempts to kick tens of millions of people off of health insurance and deny them access to comprehensive care.
We have to fight for what we want and it’s long and it’s hard. But we can’t give up. We have to hold our politicians accountable. We’ve given them the authority to do more than just pray.