September 25th is not your ordinary calendar day. It became un-ordinary in 2007. That was the year Congress passed a proclamation making September 25th the official National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Like we need Congress to tell us what day to mourn the very people they helped kill.
Congress has done nothing to protect us from shooters like those at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Charleston, San Bernardino, the Cascade Mall in Washington and on and on. Nothing to keep our children safe from unsecured guns. Nothing to stop domestic abusers from hanging on to their guns. Yet somehow, as busy as Congress is doing nothing, Congress did miraculously find the time to pass this proclamation. Break out the champagne. Or if you’re not a gun lobbyist, the tissues.
This past September 25th I attended the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. It was at the Beacon Theater in NYC and was one of 350 musical events all across the country to give a voice to the memories of all of those killed by gun violence.
During each performer’s set, whether it was The Harlem Gospel Choir, Marc Cohn, Eddie Vedder, Rosanne Cash Joan Osborne or Jackson Browne there was a sound no amp, no sound system could overpower. It was the crying, sobbing, and uneven beat of each aching heart from someone in the audience who’d lost a loved one to gun violence. There was also the quiet sniffling, blowing of noses and gentle flutter of tissue after tissue that fell out of a hand or off a lap and drifted down to the floor. I thought I saw an NRA logo on them along with the Congressional seal.
I was fortunate enough to have spoken with Marc Cohn a couple days prior. He told me about his own gun violence horror story, one he repeated on stage for all to hear:
11 years ago a guy with a gun shot me through the windshield of my band’s van. I ended up with a bullet in my left temple. The only reason I’m alive today is that the windshield slowed the bullet enough so it didn’t enter my brain. I had three children at that point and all of them could easily have been left fatherless that night. One more centimeter and my fourth child never would’ve been born. How did this man, with a long and troubled history, end up with a .22 in his hand? How could I not raise my voice to at least try and draw attention to this crucial and deadly issue? How can anyone with any common sense not raise their voice too?
I was also fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Rosanne Cash who told me the frightening story of her daughter whose field of vision was once dominated by a gun barrel pointing at her. Here is a longer published version:
... Several years later, my precious daughter, Chelsea, was held up at gunpoint in the jewelry store where she worked. The gunmen held her for twenty minutes. I'm so grateful she was not killed and I'm also so acutely aware that the difference between me and the moms carrying the photos on the march is a split second. Please, do not tell me that Chelsea 'should have had a gun.'
These guns do not show up by magic. A lot of these guns, an average of 1600 every single day, up to 600,000 a year, are stolen from cars. Your cars. Where your guns are not secured. And this figure isn’t from the “libtards” as many radical gun owners like to call anyone who doesn’t think the Second Amendment is a religious dictum. This figure is from Homeland Security.
According the Homeland Security piece, a large part of this problem is a direct consequence of states loosening laws about carrying guns in vehicles. And frighteningly enough, the report goes on to talk about how many states do not require you to report your gun stolen. Ooops — my AR 15 just upped and disappeared itself. Along with my Glock, my AK 47, my Colt, my Ruger, my Smith and Wesson, my Sig Sauer, my Bushmaster. Insert gun owner’s unconcerned shrug here. And even if they do have such a law, enforcement is minimal.
Contrary to what the NRA wants you to believe, the government is NOT coming to take your guns away. First, it would be physically impossible. Second, what gets lost in the Second Amendment sturm und drang, is what really needs to be done. And none of this violates the Second Amendment. Common sense stuff: safeguard our children and others from guns just left lying around unsecured. Universal background checks so someone cannot sell guns out of the trunk of a car to anyone who looks OK. But the reality is that you have no idea at all if that person really is “OK.” Same for unchecked internet sales. You want to own 5000 guns, own 5000 guns. Good on you.
What comes with each of those guns is the responsibility to keep it secure, to keep it safe, to keep it out of the hands of someone who shouldn’t have access to one. Imagine getting the one phone call you never want to get. It’s from the cops telling you to come home because your kid found your gun and killed himself. Herself. Your wife. A friend.
Now, back to September 25th. Congress hasn’t done what’s right. You can. You have more than the power of a high velocity round at your fingertips. You have the power to keep the list of victims mourned on September 25th from getting any longer. You have the power so we can all sing songs to celebrate life not mourn death. Join the chorus. The country will be better off with your voice in it.