Dear Speaker Ryan, and my dearest GOP Senators,
It’s 1:30 a.m. here in Nashville, 2:30 in the morning in Washington DC. The House has just been called back into session at this absurd hour. Whoever is presiding over the House while you, Speaker Ryan, preserve your viability by keeping out of the fray, has just disregarded the Democrats’ request for equal time, and moved on to a vote on the Military Construction bill – completely ignoring the past 16 hours of House Democrats sitting in on the House floor, demanding a vote on gun control issues. After this vote, the House will surely vote to break until after the 4th of July, and, as Republican Congressmen are apparently willing to show up at 3 a.m. to vote for vacation time (but never to vote on gun control) that, you think, will be the end of that.
You are counting on us, your constituents, to be asleep. To not care. To be so despondent and despairing over our government EVER functioning that we don’t see this. Two weeks will pass, fireworks will fill the air, we’ll all love America, and you’ll come back pretending nothing has changed. Pretending that the Democrats elected to the House of Representatives had not had to resort to civil disobedience in the halls of the government THEY SERVE in order to be heard. Ignoring the fact that Republican Senators, after 16 hours of filibuster by Democrats, were still too spineless to actually VOTE on sensible gun control measures, and instead, hid behind cloture votes, secure in their belief that Americans are too stupid to realize they still hadn’t addressed the issue.
But in those twelve days – assuming you come back on July 5th – 1,068 families will have been torn apart by gun violence. ONE THOUSAND AND SIXTY-EIGHT. Mothers and fathers weeping for their children. Children sent to live with distant relatives because Mommy’s been shot. Families vacationing together, children playing in public parks. Maybe another movie theater full of excited patrons, waiting to be transported by a summer blockbuster. Maybe another club full of beautiful 22 –year-olds out dancing. Maybe another church full of devout souls. But even without another national headline, the toll will still be met. 89 gun deaths a day. 1,068 of the people YOU have sworn to protect, the people who voted for you, trusted you, who put you in the room where it happens – they will be gone, forever, by the time you come back from vacation.
You’ve ignored the problem for years, and Democrats tried normal channels, came up empty, and let it be. But now they have called you out. Now they – now WE – are not putting up with this inaction any longer. You still control the House and Senate, so you can still stop every effort to save these lives, but from here on out? We’re holding you accountable. This is on you. Every murder committed with an assault rifle is on YOU. Every person suspected of terrorism who purchases a weapon – that’s on you, too, because you’re too cowardly to vote to stop them. Every single purchase of a weapon at a gun show, or online, or otherwise without a background check? Hang that around your necks, along with all the bodies that those weapons put in the ground, all the sorrow of the families ripped apart, all the fear of kids who are not let out to play this summer because their mothers love them too much to bear risking them. Every time someone convicted of domestic violence doesn’t have to surrender all of their guns – that’s on you, too, because surely you know that domestic violence is the single strongest indicator of later violent acts (that one WOULD have stopped Omar Mateen). Speaking of things you surely know, I assume you’ve seen the viral photo of the adorable 3-year-old standing on a toilet, practicing for an “active shooter” situation? Yeah. Her fear, the fear of millions of children growing up with this reality, and the ways that will warp them all of their lives, THAT’S ON YOU, TOO.
(Photo by Stacey Feeley, via ABCNews.com)
I know that’s a heavy burden to bear. I know that NRA money doesn’t completely soften the blow. So as you grapple with the enormity of what your inaction has wrought, start small. Start with one single death, and that family’s loss and pain, the light gone out forever from that community. Carry that, know that you caused that. Then feel that 88 more times, for 88 other unique individuals mowed down, every day. Soon you’ll be able to feel all of the one thousand sixty-eight American lives you are willing to sacrifice by not voting before your precious vacation. And know that we are watching you. We are not asleep. Those 1,068 are just the start. Until you enact sensible gun control measures, that toll keeps growing. We won’t forget in November. And we won’t forget in two years, or four years, when you, my Senators, are up for reelection.
You have an amazing and rare privilege. You can make this country better, and safer, for all its people. But if you choose not to do that, you are accepting the consequences of your inaction. 89 deaths a day. 623 souls gone every week. Over 82,000 families devastated every year. That’s on you.