Just hours after 13 Americans were shot and killed on a military base in our nation's capital, reporters and pundits began speculating that gun reform was dead. Headlines across the country, including the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post, could be summarized as: "No One Cares Anymore. Gun Reform is Dead in America." Four days later, after another mass shooting, this time in Chicago, media again signaled, "It's Hopeless. Give Up."
And on Meet the Press, host David Gregory had the temerity to ask Wayne LaPierre, president and CEO of the country's strongest gun lobby, if he thought interest in gun regulation was waning. What did Gregory think LaPierre would say? "No, no, it's actually just beginning and we're terrified of the grassroots movements that have sprung up since Newtown"...?
Why are American media so intent on reporting straight from the gun lobby's playbook after every mass shooting? It is time for American reporters to do their jobs and ask elected officials why they continue to ignore the majority of the American public who want common-sense gun reform. And we, as a nation, must refuse to buy into their fatalistic predictions.
When members of the House tried to repeal Obamacare and failed the first time, did the press hail it as a death knell for the opposition? How about the twentieth time? The fortieth? I don't remember seeing those headlines. Does a lack of support for immigration reform this year mean it will never happen? Of course not. Because just like every other social crisis our country has faced, America will eventually do the right thing.
In 1952, Reader's Digest published "Cancer by the Carton," an article detailing the dangers of tobacco that hugely impacted how Americans viewed smoking. But due to strong opposition from the tobacco lobby, it still took more than 40 years for the Federal Drug Administration to step in and regulate tobacco products. Fast-forward to 2013, and state laws and legal precedents now hold manufacturers liable for the effects of their products.
Any significant and worthwhile legislation passed in our country's history, regardless of what party controlled Congress, has been a multi-year process, including civil rights, women's rights, health care reform, drunk driving laws, LGBT rights, and the list goes on.
As the founder of a growing grassroots movement of American moms started just nine months ago, the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, I can assure you that not a single one of the 100,000 moms I work with across the country every day is feeling defeated. In fact, many American moms are just waking up to epidemic of gun violence in America. We are just coming to realize how lax our federal and state laws are, courtesy of the gun lobby.
Yes, I understand that Congress failed to pass background checks by six votes in April, even though the majority of the Senate supported the bill. And yes, two state legislators who supported gun reform were successfully recalled due to a gun lobby campaign earlier this month in Colorado, even though the sweeping legislation still stands.
What the press isn't reporting on is that the same week of the recalls in Colorado, two huge state legislative battles were won in California and Missouri. In California, some of the strictest state gun laws were passed by the assembly, including an expanded semi-automatic weapons ban. In Missouri, two brave Republican legislators stood up and refused to override the governor's veto of insane legislation that would have nullified federal gun laws, allowed machine guns to be sold, allowed armed volunteers in schools, and lowered the age for concealed carry.
Other wins just this year include the election of anti-NRA candidate Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois and pro-gun reform Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts; the Senate confirmation of the first Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms director in nearly a decade; and Starbucks, a worldwide business icon, just reversed its gun policy and announced last week that guns are "no longer welcome in our stores."
No one said this would be an easy fight. No one said it would be quick. Newtown was a watershed event, and you can't expect to reverse 30 years of gun lobby influence in nine months. The gun lobby has been virtually unopposed for an entire generation and it has taken decades for them to lead us to the edge of this cultural cliff. Now it is up to grassroots movements like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to pull us back from the precipice.
At the White House on Tuesday after the Navy Yard mass shooting, an Associated Press reporter said President Obama's response to the shootings was "subdued" and asked if "maybe there's some sort of numbness among the public since these shootings have happened so frequently." Another reporter asked if there's "an exhaustion and an acceptance that this is the new normal."
The story these reporters are missing is that not only are we not numb, we are awake for the first time. I can confidently report from the frontlines of this cause that the massive effort to reform our country's gun laws, policies and, ultimately, our gun-saturated culture, is just beginning.