Today, we gave the last in a series of speeches that were scheduled in the aftermath of the tragic Parkland Florida shooting. We are always out giving speeches, but the energy following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has been different.
Based on this, we wanted to share a few observations.
- Yes, It Is Wonderful to Have the Students Involved
There is no doubt the fearless student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and many of their high school and college peers across the US have provided much needed new energy, attention and frank discussion.
We are grateful for every young person who has gotten involved and are delighted to be planning a Student Activist Conference scheduled for the fall. (Any interested student should contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- No, the Students, by Themselves Can Not “Save Us”
There have been some remarkable changes since the student activism began… such as robust packages of gun laws passing in Florida and Vermont. This would have been beyond imagining just a few months ago. It gives hope for additional change.
However, we see continuing resistance at the Federal level, such as in Congress, and thus far here in Pennsylvania. Even President Trump, who initially supported a number of significant changes, reversed course following lunch with a National Rifle Association representative.
Just last week, the NRA’s lobbying arm sent a message to PA members to contact elected officials with the message, “No Change.” That is discouraging. We have long hoped the NRA would “come to the table” to support common sense reforms. Apparently that day has not yet arrived.
Therefore, it is important to state that we cannot “leave it to the kids to fix.” We must work alongside the younger members of our communities. It will take all of us who want change… older or younger, those who do own guns, and those who do not, to reduce gun deaths.
- Marches and Rallies are the “Icing” Not the “Cake”
We enjoy the energy and enthusiasm unleashed by marches and rallies as much as anyone. It’s gratifying to be with others seeking change. Unfortunately, getting a half a million friends together in D.C. does not necessarily mean elected officials will act.
We must convert that energy into the day to day advocacy, and informed votes, that can lead to change. This means:
- Engaging other interested citizens to advocate for change
- Contacting your elected officials to express your views on specific legislation
- Being a “gun sense” voter – basing your decision on your desire for change
Your first chance to vote is the primary May 15. We have a Voter’s Guide for every contested primary in the PA Rep and PA Senator races in Chester County. Check it out. Print it out. Pass it on.
- You, Yes You, Do Make a Difference
As a Gun Sense Chester County member, you receive information to be informed and engaged. Many of you follow up on that information with calls and emails. Those actions matter.
Here is why. At a meeting several weeks ago with Rep. John Lawrence, he said, “To be honest, most of the calls I got following Parkland were with the message, ‘no change.’” Rep. Lawrence has concluded his constituents do not care about this issue. There are other Chester County elected officials who have drawn this conclusion as well.
We must show them this is wrong. You, as constituents, are the people who matter in delivering that message. Every call you make or email you send delivers that message to your elected officials.
We are in this for the long haul. The work is too important to abandon midstream. Every action you take helps all of us move toward success. We have changed some minds and influenced key votes. With your help, we can change more. Now, let’s go do it.