America, If Not Now, When?
My heart is heavy.
This weekend we’ve had some of the worst gun violence our country has ever seen.
22 people were shot dead in El Paso, Texas.
Another 9 people died in Dayton, Ohio, including the shooter, who is dead too.
There was no mass shooting in Chicago, just an ongoing death toll: Over the weekend 7 people died there and 52 others are wounded.
As a boy growing up in Philadelphia, I spent the rare Sunday with my father shooting clay discs with a shotgun or a BB gun. I do not own a gun and I never have. I do not know how to shoot a gun. None of my five boys were ever interested in learning about guns. So, until now, it’s been easy for me to dismiss the gun violence crisis. I’ve always felt like it is someone else’s fault and there has been nothing that I can about it.
It’s been easy to live in my own bubble of complacency as I am a privileged white man living in economic comfort.
As of today, I am holding myself accountable for ending gun violence in America by 2030.
I am turning the shock of the daily barrage of gun violence in Chicago and in cities across our country, as well as, the shock of the Texas and Ohio shootings into a deep commitment to do everything that I can to mobilize action to end gun violence.
If not now, When? Now is the time! This must end!
America, Gun Violence is a Public Health Emergency
I am a doctor.
I worked in public health for past 35 years.
As a doctor, I’ve been on the front line of gun violence.
During my medical school training, when I worked at Parkview hospital in Philadelphia, a young African-American man came into the ER with multiple gunshot wounds.
He died in my hands, just minutes later.
I watched the ER director tell his family that he was dead and I’ll never forget the shock on their faces.
When I look at it through the lens of my medical training, it becomes clear that gun violence in our country is no less than a public health emergency.
Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents.
Our fellow citizens, including our veteran heroes, are killing themselves with guns.
It’s not just veterans.
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 34 in America.
Twenty three thousand eight hundred and fifty four (23,854) people killed themselves with a firearm in 2017.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of men who kill themselves use a firearm.
White nationalist violence.
Gun violence is disrupting our sense of community in the public square of American life — on our city streets, in our schools, workplaces, churches, synagogues, mosques, concerts, night clubs, and shopping malls.
This crisis is a complete breakdown of justice and tranquility in our American society and we must take bold and transformative action to halt this public health emergency.
Step 1: Guns to Ploughshares
Experts estimate that U.S. civilians own 393 million guns, or approximately 120.5 guns for every 100 residents. I’m shocked by this tsunami of weapons circulating in our neighborhoods.
Keeping guns from falling into the wrong hands and firearms safety is everyone’s responsibility.
And, we need to support national campaigns to collect unwanted firearms.
For example, the National Center for Unwanted Firearms (TNCUF) is a national movement that provides all citizens and communities throughout the country with an easy and safe way to dispose of or re-purpose unwanted firearms.
As the prophet Isaiah taught us, “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
I commit to supporting organizations like TNCUF to build a movement so that we all can do everything in my power to unleash a national movement to realize Isaiah’s vision. A “Guns to Plowshares” Campaign will create incentives and easy ways to reduce the volume of guns in our communities.
Step 2: Fixing the Root Causes of Gun Violence
The root cause of gun violence is a pandemic of injustice that has embroiled our society. So many people are soaking in a toxic bath of racial, economic, social, gender and environment injustice.
Our founders took an oath to uphold and defend the United States Constitution.
The preamble states:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Our leaders are failing America. They are not upholding their pledge.
Instead of justice we have unfair incarceration.
Instead of domestic tranquility we have white nationalists shooting Hispanic Americans and black on black gang violence.
Instead of defending and promoting our general welfare to insure prosperity we have a divide between the haves and the have-nots that gets more extreme every day.
On Martin Luther King’s birthday earlier this year, I launched Build A Movement 2020 (#BAM2020) to spark a patriotic revolutionary political movement.
My goal is to mobilize all Americans to join together in a shared commitment to take urgent “End Gun Violence Emergency Action” to ensure that all Americans can live peacefully, feel safe and secure from the threat of gun violence.
Who am I to call you to action?
I’m a doctor and the father of five sons.
My work for the last 30 years has been to hold the United States government accountable to mobilize resources and policies to save millions of lives from disease and to end global poverty.
I commit my life to ending gun violence in America and I am inviting you to join me in this effort. Today.
Everyone, everywhere is urgently needed to deploy a movement to “End Gun Violence in America Emergency Action.”
It’s not workable any longer to stand by and watch all our fellow citizens use guns to kill or injure themselves others.
It is not okay.
By taking action today and every day we can change this.
In the face of this public health emergency, we must urgently demand bold and transformative action from the President of the United States and the US Congress.
I recommend that we call on the U.S. Congress to return from their vacations for an Emergency Session of Congress to pass a comprehensive End Gun Violence in America Act of 2019 by October 1, 2019.
In the face of this public health emergency, we must insist that the President of the United States, Congress, and local governments take “End Gun Violence Emergency Action” by October 1, 2019 and every day going forward.
If they are not willing to do this, I believe that they are violating their oath to uphold our Constitution and they should be removed from office as fast as possible.
I propose that…
… all Americans demand that our leaders pass legislation and launch a massive mobilization of the American people, resources, and companies for “End Gun Violence Emergency Action” by October 1, 2019.
… we demand that our leaders support holding emergency sessions to design and launch bold “End Gun Violence Emergency Action”.
… justice-hearted Americans convene together in a National People’s Convention as soon as possible that will enable us to recreate our country to be authentically operating as “by the people for the people” so that together we can ensure the survival of all of humanity and that all of us can have winning lives. When we gather we will explore the questions around improving our Constitution is generating justice “by-the-people, for-the-people.”
Commit to Waging Justice
I have lived over half a century on this planet.
I have learned that each day I have the responsibility to choose the values by which I live by.
I commit my life to waging justice for all Americans so that we live together peacefully without the threat of gun violence.
I am taking full responsibility for living my life by this commitment.
And I invite you to join me, today and every day going forward.
Waging justice means that I am committed to ending gun violence in America.
Waging justice means that I will use my life to unleash every ounce of innovation and action to end gun violence in America.
Waging justice means I am taking each person as precious — each person with unalienable rights to justice, equal agency and privilege, and ensuring the rights of all of fellow Americans to live winning lives, free of gun violence.
Waging justice means we can choose to rapidly eradicate injustice.
Today, we can take a stand and commit to mobilize ourselves in waging justice to create our country and our world as a place where social, economic, racial, gender, and environmental justice flourish forward.
We can finally recreate our government to be authentically functioning by the people, for the people.
We can end gun violence in America if we have the courage to take bold and transformative action now.
This is Dr. Paul Zeitz, Founder of Build A Movement 2020. Thank you for listening. This podcast is dedicated to my father, Mickey Zeitz, who passed away 6 years ago today. Stay tuned for the next podcast coming soon. To learn more, please go to http://www.drpaulzeitz.org or www.BAM2020.world