There is one article that shows up in my newsfeed every few months like clockwork. I have come to expect it, and even my horrifying realization that I have come to expect it quickly faded into acceptance. The article links to a tweet by Dan Hodges, a British journalist, blogger and commentator. It reads:
“In retrospect, Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”
The first time I read it I felt myself literally wilt. Because when you read this, you immediately agree. How is it remotely tolerable that we did nothing after Sandy Hook? Yet we all endure it. We all went about our lives, and it somehow became bearable. What possibly could be done about gun control now if we did nothing after that event? I think this tweet went viral because it vocalizes an opinion that I think many people secretly believe: there is nothing that can be done. The gun control debate is over, and we lost. The battle is too steep uphill, too flooded with NRA money and senators comfortable with unanswered phones ringing all day. This tweet is popular because it confirms people’s despair. That is why I think we all have to stop posting it.
I am the first to admit that I’ve felt this despair. I have wanted to throw my hands in the air and scream that it’s useless. I think that many people felt this way when the Senate voted down all four gun control measures a few weeks ago. I know I felt that way when I woke up to hear about the shooting in Orlando. But we cannot give in to this feeling.
We as a nation cannot give up on gun control, as impossible as it seems. According to Jeremy Bird, a senior analyst to Battleground Texas, 90 percent of Americans want mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, a statement that Pulitzer Prize fact-checking site Politifact found to be true. It seems that the nation is not actually that divided on this issue. What it comes down to it, the issue seems to lay in our democracy.
Once again, I refuse to be fatalistic. Senator Chris Murphy, who led the near 15-hour gun filibuster, told Politico last week that to him gun control is becoming more of an election issue. If we want to fight for gun control, we need to focus on lower-level elections. Instead of fighting about Bernie vs. Hilary or getting constantly frustrated by Trump, let’s instead focus on the Senate and House races. Because that is where the change comes, not from the President.
That’s not to say I’m not a pragmatist. Even if anti-Trump backlash handed the Democrats the Senate, it’s nearly impossible for them to clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to pass universal background checks. Furthermore, it seems very likely that the Republicans will hold the House and could veto anything that went their way. But I still can’t give up hope. Recently, Mitch McConnell scheduled a vote on a bi-partisan hybrid bill of sorts, though in a legislative sleight of hand, it turned out to be a vote to table the bill. And earlier today, Speaker Paul Ryan promised a vote on some gun control measure later this week. It is a glimpse of hope, and I’m clinging onto it. Also, let’s not forget that the Supreme Court recently has been leaning slightly towards gun control. For example, it recently ruled that people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can be prohibited from buying firearms, even if the violence wasn’t found to be intentional. This is not hopeless.
I guess this blog post is my pep talk to myself in response to the failure of the past few weeks and the danger of us forgetting in the next few. But mostly, it’s me begging you guys to stop reposting that tweet. The gun control debate is not over, and every time we say it is, we become culpable in the next tragedy.