As the president declared his Executive Orders for gun control, I was drawn to the woman immediately behind him to the left: Lucia McBath, the mother of a son, Jordan, who was violently killed at age 17 from gun violence in Jacksonville, Florida. Not only do I know her, I know her tears and pain, and other mothers and fathers who cry and mourn when sharing their stories with me of their children being taken far too prematurely by random acts of violence caused by guns. When I stand with the president on this issue, as I do every single day, I stand with Lucia too.
Since President Obama became president, there has been a shooting or mass killings throughout the USA almost every month: innocent community members watching their favorite movie in a theater; school children and their teachers, excited in their elementary classrooms; celebrators at a holiday party in San Bernadino; a Congresswoman serving her community; and church members in prayer service.
Someone had to do something - we could not simply ignore this cancer eating away at the very fabric of our nation. If legislators stood by and continued to watch it happen and argue or, worse, put their allegiance to the NRA ahead of their allegiance to the flag, then, yes, the president had to go to the next step: all within his bounds, all within the trust we put in a Commander-in-Chief we count on to help protect our children.
Not only do I know Lucia, or Lucy as we call her, but Jackie and other mothers who've lost one, two or more children. I just sent my two sons back to college and graduate school - so many families do not have that opportunity. Community leaders, faith leaders, residents, must all partner with the president.
I attended an interfaith breakfast this morning in NYC, hosted by Mayor DiBlasio and First Lady Shirlane McCray, who has focused this past year on mental health outreach, one of the key points of the president's message. We have to get help for those who need it, and keep guns out of the hands of those who are mentally ill. The other points that stood out to me of the many outlined were strengthening requirements around background checks and enforcing registration of those who sell guns with a federal registry.
If these three steps alone begin a reverse domino effect, and have people standing up rather than diving and laying down for cover, then we are ahead of the curve.
We are close to the birthday of Dr. Luther King, Jr. a man of faith and courage. President Obama exhibited both this morning. This is not about what the left or the right want: this is about doing the right thing. As Dr. Luther King reflected, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Congress needs to act, and in its absence we needed executive action. Thank you, Mr. President.
Suzan Johnson Cook, the 3rd US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, is a faith leader and organizer of the ProVoice Movement for Women, and a candidate for New York's 13th Congressional District. She is a frequent contributor and columnist for the Huffington Post. She may be reached at: ProVoiceMovement@gmail.com