Hopeful and thankful

As bleak as things seem right now in our country, I have hope that common sense will win over corruption, gun violence, climate change denial, affordable health care opponents and the many other politically charged issues of our time. In the end, right usually wins but it is going to take a lot of hard work.

Something interesting is happening now. The latest polling on impeachment shows a difference between men and women when it comes to support for it.

And the poll marks the first time that more than 60% of women have said they backed impeaching Trump and removing him from office (61% say so now, compared with 56% in October and 51% in May), even as a majority of men remain opposed to impeachment (53% oppose it).

In my opinion women look at verbal abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gun violence, the economy, family leave, affordable child care, corruption, health care, freedom to choose, and a myriad of other problems to solve differently from men. That is because they are much more often the victims than men. Inequality has a way of changing your life view. Minority groups of all kinds understand that perfectly well.

The day after President Trump was inaugurated I participated in the Women’s March, sitting on a bus from Duluth to DC and back to make my voice heard. Along with more than a million others- mostly women but also men and children, we let America know that we were not in support of a man who exhibited bullying, boorish, abusive and intolerant behavior during the campaign and still, to this day.

According to what I have seen the Women’s March organization, going strong still after the March in January of 2017. Watch for more in the coming weeks.

Also going strong is March For Our Lives, formed after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2017. Their Facebook and Twitter feeds are active with thousands of supporters. And the members, some whose names are better known than others, have written a plan for Congress to enact on gun safety reform. It is called a Peace Plan for a Safer America. The name of their plan says it all. There is hope when our young people can write legislation for a safer America that is better and more comprehensive than the adults have come up so far.

Gun violence prevention groups are stronger than ever making a big difference in the lives of Americans and also on the political scene. Brady and Moms Demand Action and Giffords canvassed in the state of Virginia in the 2019 recent election that turned the legislature blue. Candidates were endorsed and campaign contributions came from individuals and groups alike. It worked. It is one of the first times the gun lobby has been outspent and out maneuvered. There is hope.

Businesses have stepped up to the plate as they have watched our kids and communities experience horrendous mass shootings. Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault rifles and the business is booming. This is totally contrary to the corporate gun lobby mantra that gun sales are necessary for businesses to make a profit. The corporate nature of the corporate gun lobby is not doing so well with their messaging. Not selling guns sends a message that some people just don’t want to buy them and don’t feel comfortable when a store is selling them.

After the shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart, a decision was made to stop selling ammunition for assault style rifles and handguns. ( they had previously stopped selling assault rifles). And open carriers of guns are not welcome in their stores. That is a good move considering how many “accidental” gun discharges have happened inside of Walmart stores. What is it with Walmart stores and guns? There was just a recent shooting at a Walmart in Oklahoma leaving 3 dead. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Other businesses have stood up to the perceived power and control of the gun lobby by saying they don’t want people openly carrying their loaded guns inside. Shoppers really don’t want to see people with guns while they are just running errands, often with their children. Here is a list of those who have decided that guns inside are not a great idea for their business. The logic of the gun rights advocates isn’t making much sense any more since we understand that a gun in a business or school is more likely to be used against those inside than in self defense but never mind- some believe their gun must be at the ready at all times no matter what they are doing. From the article:

“With this world being the way it is, we’ve got to protect ourselves,” said Howard, who worked as a construction supervisor until he broke his back on the job 15 years ago. “I haven’t had to shoot anybody yet, but you never know. I’ve keep a fire extinguisher in my house even though I’ve never had to use it.”

The thing is, the world in America has regular shootings that could not have been prevented by having a gun on your person. The mistake they are making is the assumption they will have time to plan to shoot someone who opens fire suddenly in a public place with absolutely no warning and no time to act. It’s a myth. See my post about this- 16 seconds with a gun.

Health care providers have stepped up to say: #ThisIsOurLane after the NRA had the nerve to tell them that they should stay in their lane regarding gun violence prevention. In other words, don’t talk to patients about the risks of guns to their health and well being. Physicians and other health care providers were having none of it and decided to fight back. It is their lane, of course, but never mind- the NRA doesn’t want anyone interfering in their desire to normalize guns, carrying of guns in public and, apparently shootings.

But some don’t want us to feel hopeful. The NRA and corporate gun lobby keeps pounding the drum of fear and paranoia about any gun safety reform. Gun sales have gone down because Donald Trump, as President, is not going to take away their guns like Obama did. Remember when he did that?

Back to my first thoughts about women wanting the changes we deserve and the nation we ought to have- without fear of being shot, abused, left without economic security, there is discussion in the article about economic prosperity and that Americans are feeling good about the economy while at the same time so many are sleeping on the streets and not able to take care of their families adequately:

In his Thanksgiving proclamation for 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed gratitude for the nation’s turn “to things spiritual” in the previous year. “We can truly say, ‘What profiteth it a nation if it gain the whole world and lose its own soul?’ ” FDR wrote.

That was in the depths of the Great Depression, and Roosevelt was the incumbent. The task facing Roosevelt’s political heirs is to make the case that the same principle applies during times of plenty.

When it comes to gun violence, we have lost many souls in senseless acts of violence. We have also lost our soul in the seeming acceptance and refusal to do anything about the moral crisis and national epidemic of gun violence. Those of us who care about gun violence and have experienced the death of someone close to us have volunteered and worked tirelessly to make change happen. To some extent we have succeeded. The conversation has changed. Just as it did about auto safety and bans on smoking in public places, the majority of Americans get that something must be done.

More states have passed background check, Extreme Risk Protection Orders and other laws that have reduced some of the violence. But we are not doing enough. Decades of listening to the NRA and allowing them to shape the conversation has led to a country where gun violence is actually on the rise and mass shootings are happening with increasing regularity. As that happens the public is becoming more supportive of doing something about it as the lapdog politicians for the gun lobby dig in and stand firm against all odds.

Times are changing. I still have hope. I am thankful for my family- for my grandchildren who so far have been safe from tragedy. My family, like many others, have suffered from suicide, homicide, divorces, and minor difficulties that, in the long term, have made us stronger. We carry on because we have hope and love.

I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all. And I do mean that. For some odd ( and cynical) reason President Trump seems to think us “liberals” are at war with Thanksgiving. Not me. He is making it up to drive another wedge between us. Thanksgiving is no time to do that. Let’s just enjoy the holiday and each other.

This holiday time of the year is difficult for families sensing the missed presence of a loved one or a friend and that empty chair that should have been for their son, daughter, mother, father, grandchild.

We are better than this. We are resilient. We will pass stronger gun laws. I have hope that our young people will lead the charge. And when women are put in charge of things, a different view prevails and we move towards more peaceful solutions to our problems. We will deal with a corrupt President now under impeachment. Our democracy is under attack but so far has held. We must make sure it stays that way. We will resist and persist.

Million Mom March, moms and guns

nra mothersDid you get your mother a gun for Mother’s Day? If not you can enter a gun give-away contest at the NRA website to make sure someone special to you has a gun for self defense on this special day. Perhaps someone is lurking outside of the restaurant where you will take your mother for brunch. Or maybe at church? Or at the park where you go for a picnic? Or maybe a mother in your life needs her gun while shopping? Remember this young mother who lost her life senselessly when her 2 year old sone found a loaded gun in her purse and “accidentally” discharged the gun? She died.

Would your mother really prefer a gun to flowers on Mother’s Day?

This is a wrong headed idea but the corporate gun lobby has no common sense when it comes to profits over safety. Women are more at risk for their lives in homes where there are guns than in homes without guns. Domestic disputes too often turn deadly when a gun is available. As a result, too many children are without their mothers on this day and too many mothers are also without their children as a result of deadly and avoidable gun violence. From the linked article:

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, has argued that firearms are a great equalizer between the sexes. In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee last year, he declared, “The one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun.” But the empirical reality of firearm ownership reflects anything but equality, particularly when it comes to intimate partner violence. Such fights become much more frequent and lethal when firearms are involved, and the violence is nearly unidirectional, inflicted by males upon females. This relationship holds true not only across the United States, but around the world.

Don’t buy your mother a gun today.

The gun lobby needs to promote gun ownership among women, and even children, because fewer homes report owning guns and gun ownership is mostly among older white males living in rural America. But I digress.

Mother’s Day has become a profit maker for greeting card companies, florists, retailers and others. But the annual commemoration is not about that:

The earliest iterations of Mother’s Day in the U.S. were organized for several reasons, but celebrating mothers wasn’t among them. U.S. women’s groups in the late 1800s came together in West Virginia to tackle everything from infant mortality to disease and milk contamination. In 1870, a composer by the name of Julia Ward Howe issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” urging women to become politically active and to promote peace following the U.S. Civil War, according toNational Geographic.

And that is what mothers have been doing ever since- promoting peace, promoting safety for children, promoting public health and safety. Women are politically active but their voices are too often drowned out by a power structure that has not included women in leadership roles where they can make a difference. That is changing but not enough. Women in politics will be key to getting policy changes in the best interest of women, children and families.

15 years ago on Mother’s Day of 2000, which fell on May 14th that year, 750,000 mothers and others marched for sanity and common sense concerning gun violence. I was one of those who attended the Million Mom March and came away a changed person. I found my voice. Eight years after my sister was shot and killed in a domestic shooting, I found a way to talk about it and a way to tell my story. I also found that I was not alone. Unforgettable at the March were the many people carrying posters or wearing tee shirts or hats with photos of a MMM photoloved one lost to a bullet.

Over the years, as I got involved with the issue of gun violence prevention, I became acquainted with many victims and survivors nation-wide who are my friends to this day. We are in a club that we didn’t want to join. Some of them are moms who have lost children so Mother’s Day is difficult and a sad reminder that our nation is awash in guns and gun violence. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Moms are a force. Don’t mess with a mom who has lost someone to a violent and sudden death. 15 years after the first march against gun violence mothers are still marching. Yesterday hundreds marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, including many gun violence prevention groups, to show support for common sense. There were marchers from the Million Mom March and Brady Campaign chapters, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and others in a show of unity to demand that our elected leaders stand up for the victims and survivors instead of the gun lobby.

My sister experienced the tragic loss of a young toddler in a drowning death at the lake behind their home. She never really got over the loss of her only daughter, who was a year older than my own. My daughter had a special relationship with my sister because of this loss. And yes, I also know that drownings are the cause of more deaths than shootings in very young children. But with the increase in the number of young children “accidentally” shooting themselves or others, that may change. As more data hopefully becomes available, we will know more about what causes death in young children. Mothers should not lose their children no matter to what cause. My mother, of course, lost her oldest daughter to a domestic shooting.

Today, I know that a gun did not make my sister safer from a domestic shooting. My sister never got to see her oldest son get married or to hold her grandchildren. She wasn’t in attendance at the weddings of my own children but was remembered lovingly at these occasions. I do what I do because of her and because of the many women who have lost their lives to a bullet.

The thing is, my sister is your sister. Just because this hasn’t happened in your family doesn’t mean it won’t. That is why it is so important to be involved in the movement to change the conversation about guns and the role they play in so much devastation to families all over America. Gun deaths and injuries happen in every neighborhood, to any age group, to any economic category, to any gender, to any and all races and usually in unexpected ways. Every one of us can be affected.

So what do we mothers who continue to march want?

We want people to know that if they choose to own guns, they should also choose to understand that those guns are a risk to themselves and others in the home.

We want mothers ( and others) to practice responsible gun ownership. Guns should be locked securely unloaded and separate from ammunition.

We want mothers ( and fathers) to ASK if there are guns in the homes where their children play and hang out.

We want mothers ( and others) to continue to advocate for background checks for all gun sales. In states where that has happened, women (and others) are safer from shootings.

We want domestic abusers to have fewer guns, not more guns. Some states , including my own state of Minnesota, have passed laws to make sure the guns of domestic abusers are required to be removed from them before they are used to kill a domestic partner.

We want mothers and women to run for political office and raise the issue of gun safety reform and then get the job done to make our communities safer.

We want mothers ( and others) to get involved and stay involved to change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence. We can make safer communities for our families if we continue to march and continue to advocate for common sense.

We want mothers ( and others) to be loud and clear with elected leaders that the majority of Americans want stronger gun laws, not looser laws.

Happy Mother’s Day. Keep marching.