Gun control activists rally in front of U.S. Capitol after El Paso, Dayton mass shootings
They gathered in Washington, D.C. this past weekend,some 2,000 moms and activists who are determined to end the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
The annual Moms Demand Action conference got started Saturday by honoring victims when news of the El Paso shooting trickled across TV screens and phones. Twenty-two more people dead at the hands of another young white man with an assault weapon.
“It was a devastating feeling,” said Lynsey Sugarman, who heads the Lexington chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We ended up putting on our red shirts and over 1,000 of us marched through the streets of Washington.
By Sunday, they’d heard about Dayton, and by Monday, Sugarman and others were back in Lexington, organizing a rally to be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Lexington’s courthouse plaza. There’s elections coming, after all, and people can start showing exactly how they feel about constant and senseless death.
”I feel like the majority of Americans want to address the problems. It’s time for politicians to stop offering thoughts and prayers and do something,” Sugarman said.
That “something” is two bills currently held up on the desk of our own Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader and buddy to the NRA, who’s up for election next year. The House has passed two bills — H.R. 8 would close the gun show loophole by stopping most person-to-person firearm sales unless a background check can be conducted, and H.R. 1112 would extend to at least 10 days the time gun dealers have to wait on a background check before a sale. Currently, they can go ahead with the sale if they haven’t heard back in three days.
Kentucky’s entire Republican Congressional delegation voted against them, but they passed anyway with the help of the state’s sole Democrat in Congress, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville. Since the bills got to the Senate, they have wallowed without a word.
These bills do not take away gun rights, or guns or even what’s most needed, another assault weapon ban, like the one that brought common sense to this country from 1994 to 2004. But these background checks are at least a start, a start at chipping away at the demented hold one kleptocratic organization holds over craven politicians like McConnell and other Republicans. More than 90 percent of Americans support background checks, after all.
It’s also important to remember that while these mass shootings get the big headlines, they are only 1 percent of gun deaths. These background checks could help stem the big shootings and the little ones, all of which take away someone’s precious life.
Anita Rowe Franklin is a Lexington activist who has advocated against gun violence since the shooting death of her 21-year-old son, Antonio Franklin, in 2014. She was in Washington for the Moms Demand Action, and she believes a corner may have been turned in the fight against all these senseless deaths.
“It used to be people wouldn’t talk about it, now people are pointing fingers, people who have committed to run for office,” she said. “This is going to become the platform.”
It’s, of course, shameful, that nearly all of Kentucky’s congressional delegation opposed these bills. But right now, there’s someone else who could break this logjam, and he’s also from our state. Mitch McConnell dreams of being remembered as an important statesman, not a political hack interested only in money and power. Here’s his chance.
Linda Blackford writes columns and commentary for the Herald-Leader.