Today is the 6th anniversary of the shooting that shocked and rocked the country. Never before Dec. 14th 2012 had an unhinged shooter carried weapons meant for war and massacres to an elementary school and opened fire indiscriminately on innocent 6 and 7 year olds and 6 adults, massacring their young bodies. Never before. But not never again. Since the massacre 6 years ago, 600,000 Americans have been shot. Of those, over a third died of their gunshot injuries.
We had hope back then that this heinous shooting would at long last, loosen the grip the corporate gun lobby had on our nation’s elected leaders and actually allow stronger gun laws to pass. But we were woefully and tragically wrong. There was a bi-partisan bill. There was hope.
Even Blue Dog Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, an avid gun owner and NRA politician, cried in his office when the Sandy Hook parents came to him with their pleas to do something. It was a raw moment. It was public.
We had hope. Even the grief and tears of the parents of the 6 and 7 year olds so soon after the shooting was not enough for the lapdog politicians in thrall with the second amendment.
We had hope. Hope was not enough.
Yesterday at our local 6th annual vigil in memory of the Sandy Hook and other gun violence victims a pastor quoted these words:
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
We are angry at the way things are. We have had hope shattered too many times. Which mass shooting will be enough for our leaders? How many victims shot all at once in rapid succession with a mad man holding weapons meant for war would it take? How many………….?
The title of our local vigil was “Embracing Hope Through Action”. Speakers talked about past efforts and present situations. The last speaker was a student at our local university who helped organize our local March For Our Lives chapter. She is an emerging leader who gave us hope because the students have had the courage to step up and look up, as she said. They have nothing to lose. They taught the adults how to do this.
And so it took a group of vocal and determined older high school students, not willing to sit down and shut up after their friends were shot at another shooting that shocked and rocked the nation last Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Florida, to affect change.
There is common sense after all. Even Florida, the state owned by the NRA, passed stronger gun laws after the Parkland students insisted- no demanded- in very loud voices. Over 1 million people marched in over 700 marches nation-wide on March 24th last year. Students walked out of their schools in moving 17 minutes of actions and silence in memory of the 17 shot at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The tiny survivors of Sandy Hook elementary school couldn’t make demands. For one thing, they were all traumatized by what had occurred and seeing the bloody bodies of their friends and classmates. They still are. The parents were traumatized and so many felt relief that their child was not one of the bullet ridden bodies left lying on the floors of a building no longer in existence.
But the memories were not erased by the demolition of the building that was once a happy place of learning. They live on.
We remember them today and always. We are still angry that our leaders couldn’t have the courage to do the right thing after what happened 6 years ago today.
But we still have hope. That is what allows us to get on and do the hard work of advocacy on behalf of our loved ones.
This is a “no brainer”. Why should it be so hard? It should be easy.
And it shouldn’t take courage to make noise and stand up for what we know well over 90% of Americans support. It takes resolve and doing the right thing.
The winds of change are blowing. Our young people are the hope. Our young people have courage. They are showing us how to do this. They have taken on conventional wisdom and attacked those who have stood in the way of the common sense and doing what is morally and lawfully right.
The 2018 election saw NRA “A” rated candidates and sitting Congress members go down to defeat to candidates who embraced gun safety reform.
There is hope.
We can and will do this in the names of the victims and survivors.
Today we remember: