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On Saturday morning as gunshots exploded at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, TX, Jordan and Andre Anchondo were shopping with their newborn son. They were there to buy school supplies for their daughter Skylin, who had just turned 5 over the weekend. Jordan died protecting the baby, wrapping her adult body around his tiny one, taking the bullets that would have killed him. Andre was also killed in the massacre, apparently when he tried to stand between his wife and the shooter. Jordan’s sister says Skylin won’t stop asking for her parents, who will never come home.
Just hours later, when another young white man attempted to shoot his way into a bar in Dayton, OH, Lois Oglesby was there. The 27-year-old mother of two had just returned from maternity leave to her job as a nurse. Her two children, one of them a newborn, were left without a mother when she was murdered along with eight other people. Parents. Siblings. Daughters and sons.
There are so many new orphans in America this weekend; so many children affected. But in the last few weeks, victims as young as 6 and as old as 86 were shot and killed. Thousands were locked in place in stores and bars, closets and bathrooms. No matter how old you are, if you are alive today, you are part of the Lockdown Generation. And it’s because for the last 20 years our government has failed in its single most important duty: to keep us safe.
Let’s be clear. Donald Trump is a white supremacist. I’ve said it before — red hats are the new white hood. Donald Trump is doing his damndest to wage a race war with the sick and cynical goal of attracting votes. And we’re dying because of it.
But if any single one of our governments in this century had acted with the tiniest bit of integrity on the issue of guns, it would be a moot point. These pathetic and cowardly footsoldiers in Trump’s Axis of Hate would not have weapons of war. They would not be able to kill a synagogue full of innocents. Or a church. Or a Wal-Mart. There would not be blood still pooled on the streets of Ohio. Skylin’s parents would be taking her to kindergarten.
If any government since Columbine had done its most important job, it could have saved many of the roughly 40,000 Americans who will be shot to death this year (some of those deaths will be by suicide), per data from the CDC. According to a report from Amnesty International, there are 106 gun deaths per day in our nation. More than 10 Dayton shootings, every single day. And our elected leadership has done nothing but make it worse.
When the massacre at Columbine High School happened in 1999, there was a Democratic President, and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Nothing happened.
When nine people were killed and five more were injured primarily at a school in Red Lake, MN in 2005, Republicans held a united government. Nothing happened.
When 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech in 2007, Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and Republicans held the White House. Nothing happened.
Democrats held a united government when mass-murder gunned down fourteen people in Binghamton, NY in 2009. This was still true just a few months later when a terrorist shot 13 people to death people and wounded 30 more at Ft. Hood, TX. And still nothing happened.
And in 2012 when a young white man killed 20 babies and six of their teachers, both parties failed. Democrats and Republicans together in the Senate killed both an assault weapons ban and a universal background check law. The House didn’t even bother to try — they were too busy endorsing their NRA campaign checks in the blood of those babies. President Obama issued 23 relatively weak executive actions, none of which were executive orders. Ultimately even he lacked the courage needed to take strong action on this issue.
Rivers of blood flowing through our communities. And once again a government clearly without any moral strength or the tiniest amount of competence continues to do nothing.
You know the rest. Sutherland Springs. Santa Fe. San Bernardino. San Bernardino (again). Ft. Lauderdale (again). Las Vegas. Dallas. Ft. Hood (again). DC Navy Yard. Orlando. Charleston. Aurora. Virginia Beach. Parkland. Gilroy. Dayton. Rivers of blood flowing through our communities. And once again a government clearly without any moral strength or the tiniest amount of competence continues to do nothing.
Yes, Democrats are better on this issue. But they’ve been in power, too. Where are the results? Where is an assault weapons ban? Where is a magazine capacity ban? Where is a national red flag law? Action on ghost guns? Background checks on ammunition? Raising the age to buy firearms to twenty-one? Mandated safe storage, insurance, and trigger locks? Biometrics? Licensing? Where the hell is anything that could have saved any of the more than 600,000 lives lost to guns in America since Columbine? Both parties have failed us on this issue.
Our government refuses to act to save our lives. So we have to. Call your members of Congress and demand they impeach and convict Donald Trump. Make sure you are registered to vote and refuse to vote for any candidate who will not support each and every one of the basic gun violence prevention measures I listed above. Your congressional delegation is home for the summer. Show up at town halls, and demand change. Do not apologize. Do not ask permission. Do not be polite. We’re fighting for our lives.
If you’re angry, you should be. Our government spent two decades letting it get this bad. It’s going to take direct, sustained action to fix it. Look for a local gun violence prevention organization—they are in every state in the union. March for Our Lives and Giffords Center are great places to start. And most importantly, vote in every election—while we work on the federal issues, towns, cities and states provide an important bulwark against the NRA. Push your mayors, town councils and state representatives to take up smart gun violence prevention laws. And bring your family, friends, and neighbors to vote.
Our commitment, our righteous rage is more powerful than their indifference.
Look at your children. Imagine wrapping your body around them as a hate-filled murderer with a weapon meant for the battlefield opens fire in your supermarket. Or your movie theater. Or your park. Or their school. Imagine them constantly asking someone else when you are coming home.
And take our country back.