Why I’m not going to stop speaking out about gun violence prevention and Hillary Clinton, no matter what
Seven months after my mom was murdered in the halls of her elementary school, I got married — at her house in the Adirondacks, in the dress we picked out together and sneakers she would have teased me for wearing. My wedding was the last plan I ever made with my mom.
How do I describe what it feels like to have your entire world ripped apart?
For a college class, I once had to pick a word that described me and write a three-page paper about it. I did what I always did: called my mom and asked her.
“Mommy, if you had to pick one word that described me, what would it be?”
She responded in less than half a second: “Passionate.”
The day my mom was killed, I felt that piece of me burn away. Until I got involved in the gun violence prevention movement.
I’ve been an advocate for more than three years now. In that time, we’ve had some pretty significant moments — good and bad. Huge progress in the states. Horrible tragedies in Oregon, Charleston, and DC. Every time I read another heart wrenching headline about another deadly shooting, I quickly reach out to the community where it happened. I give them my support in any way I can. For pretty obvious reasons, gun violence is at the forefront of my entire life.
And then a few days ago, this happened:
My family actually isn’t part of the lawsuit against the gun manufacturers; a lot of people don’t know that. But when I saw Senator Sanders’ callous response to the families whose loved ones were killed alongside my mom, something snapped. It brought me back to that day in the Sandy Hook firehouse when I looked around and realized: Our families were all murdered together, and now these people are my family. I went into straight defense mode.
That’s when the floodgates really opened.
Over the last few days, I’ve been bombarded with vile, nasty comments. One person tweeted: “I blame your grandmother. The manufacturers made the guns, sure, but your grandma made your mom. See how dumb you sound?” And then there’s the stupid car rhetoric: “If I ran over a dog, would you sue Ford?” They told me I was a pawn, that I was being used in political posturing, that I politicized my mother’s death. The only thing they didn’t throw at me was the hoax (yes, there are actually people who claim the Sandy Hook shooting never happened).
But for every hateful, hurtful tweet, I’ve gotten five times as many messages of support. And they’re not only coming from friends and family, gun violence survivors and gun violence prevention activists — they’re coming from people I’ve never met.
And of course, there was this.
The outpouring of love and support I’ve gotten since people saw I was really taking a beating from the other side was overwhelming.
But here’s the thing: Even if that weren’t the case, I’d still be speaking out.
What kind of world would we live in if everybody always backed down from a challenge? What if everyone who faced tough odds said, it’s hard, so I’m going to walk away? That’s not the type of world I want to live in.
90 Americans are killed every single day by gun violence, and countless others are injured. Every day that I hesitate to speak out is one more day I’m not helping people who are going to be hurt.
I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of that devastating news. That’s why I am going to continue to do everything I possibly can to take on the issue of gun violence, for the rest of my life.
And it’s why I’m doing everything I can to elect Hillary Clinton. She’s the only presidential candidate who has any type of respectable plan for guns — or any plan at all for guns, for that matter. She doesn’t hide from it. She doesn’t just tell us she cares — she shows us she cares. Consistently. And that means something.
Here’s how I think change is going to happen.
A lot of politicians know the statistics now. And when more leaders start stepping up the way Hillary Clinton has — when they’ll sit with somebody like Lucy McBath and tell the story of Jordan Davis — that’s how we’ll change hearts, minds, and laws. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s going to be more of a marathon than a sprint.
And to everyone who votes against gun violence prevention bills or stands with the gun lobby instead of survivors and family members: We will eventually vote you out. If you’re not voting on behalf of your constituents, you’re not going to have your job for much longer.
As for me? I’m going to be one of the people knocking on doors and doing all that I can to make that change happen faster.
My mom isn’t here. She can’t speak out on behalf of the 33,000 people who are killed every year. She can’t tell their stories. But I am, and I can. And it’s going to take a lot more than nasty words to stop me.