Gun violence is a horrible thing. When an innocent person is shot and killed by a gun, whether legal or illegal, friends, family, colleagues and society at large feel the ballistic butterfly effect. Many lives are ruined. The emotional pain resonates in endless waves that only diminish, never disappear. There is nothing wrong with seeking solutions to this scourge, either before or after its realization. Even those on the right of the gun rights issue understand the very personal need to “do something” when someone you love is murdered in what can only be called “senseless” violence. Equally important: we all appreciate the need to say something. To testify that the victim’s life was important. That they mattered. That what happened to them was not right. Vengeance may belong to the Lord (and it may not). But all of us in this country have a right to speak our minds. And all of us have a moral obligation to listen. To consider the meaning of the experiences of those around us, no matter what ideas and experiences form the foundations for our life.
The New York Daily News reports that the Million Mom March against gun violence (and for rigorous gun control) is set for Saturday. The headline writer points out the immediate irony: “Hundreds expected for Million Mom March to honor victims of gun violence.” Clearly, the Million Mom March has overarching not to say over-reaching ambitions.
Less clearly, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is behind the event. This fact isn’t mentioned by the News, in their rush to blend personal stories of devastation with a call to action. All you have to do to discover this link: click on “millionmommarch.com.” You’re immediately dumped on to the Brady home page. Not a sub-page. The main page. Click on Google link two—to find a local chapter—and it’s Sorry! Page not found.
It seems the Million Mom March was completely co-opted by the Brady bunch, and then, cynically, inexcusably, left to wither on the vine. It’s been a long, slow, steady decline.
A quick trip to Wikipedia reveals that this is the tenth anniversary of the first Million Mom March. Here’s the mission statement from the group founder, Donna Dees-Thomases:
“All Americans have the right to be safe from gun violence in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, and places of work and worship. All children have the right to grow up in environments free from the threat of gun violence. Gun violence is a public health crisis that harms not only the physical, but also the spiritual, social, and economic health of our families and communities. The availability and lethality of guns make death or severe injury more likely in domestic violence, criminal activity, suicide attempts, and unintentional shootings. It is possible to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun violence with reasonable, common sense policy.”
According to a CBS interview before the first march, Dees-Thomas was “moved to action after seeing terrified pre-schoolers from a Jewish community center in Granada Hills, California being led to safety after a shooting rampage.” Whatever her motivation, the New Jersey mother of two’s crusade received the full support of the press.
Although Dees-Thomases did her best to steer clear of accusations of gun grabbing in her many mainstream media interviews, the words “availability and lethality” in the mission statement above give the game away: the Moms wanted gun control, and lots of it. It was a game the Million Mom March lost.
You don’t have to stumble onto dead links to know that the Mom’s have lost momentum. The recent Supreme Court decision rejecting Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban (Heller) is only the most prominent example in a nationwide roll-back of gun control laws, which looks set to continue with the McDonald case and state-based efforts to loosen concealed carry permitting regulations.
The Million Mom March lost its mojo for one simple reason: it tied its fate to strict gun control legislation. There is a general and growing consensus—both scientific and political—that this approach simply doesn’t work. It didn’t—doesn’t stop the violence that has plagued the members of the Million Mom March organization and their supporters. Who’ve grown fewer over the intervening years.
It’s a shame. The voices of those who’ve lost sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues to gun violence deserve to be heard. We need to consider their anguish. To feel their pain. To see the world as they do. So that we can take practical, sensible, effective measures to combat gun violence.
Gun control may not be the answer, but that should not stop us for looking for ways to minimize the murder. Whether we on the outside of this less-than-charmed circle approach the problem through more rigorous policing or, yes, arming more law-abiding citizens, we should never forget that gun violence is here, amongst us. Taking its toll.
The Million Mom March may not include a million moms. But it should. And does, whether we like it or not.