My husband got an email from one of his subscriptions online about an important meeting last night at Newtown High School sponsored by the Newton Action Alliance. It was 3:00 pm. when he saw the email. We live in Jersey City, NJ. He read it to me and asked me if I wanted to go. The drive was supposed to be less than two hours, plenty of time to get there. Yes. Let's go, I answered. We needed to find out if we coud do more. And so we went. Got snared in several traffic jams, but we got there on time. And I'm so glad we went.
The lecture hall at Newtown High School was standing room only. Some families of the victims of Newtown were there: the Soto family whose sister was killed that day; Neil Henslin, father of little Jessie who was killed; Erica Lafferty, whose mother was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary and was killed. You remember Erica who confronted Sen. Ayotte (R NH) last week at a town hall meeting in that state. She exposed Ayotte for all the world to see. Ayotte continues to fall in her approval ratings.
Newton families and their allies have formed Newton Action Alliance, connecting with other groups to engage in congressional lobbying, grassroots organization and other actions to promote reasonable gun control legislation. They welcome everyone to participate.
You can help: http://newtownaction.org/ They have a Facebook page.
Other victims were also in attendance: Colin Goddard who was shot at Virginia Tech. and who now works for the Brady Campaign told his story. He was about to quit a few weeks ago because he was so discouraged, but he sat in the Senate gallery with Sara Brady when the background check bill went down in defeat, and he saw how Sara reacted...she became optimistic. She told him that now that the public sees how elected officials ignore the will of the people, they will get very angry and now maybe after decades of inaction in Congress on gun control, something will get done. He stayed on with the organization and says he is now so encouraged by the outpouring of support for his and other organizations fighting for sensible gun laws....he's not going anywhere.
You can help: http://bradycampaign.org/ They have a Facebook page.
Stephen Barton who was shot multiple times in the movie theatre in Aurora, but who grew up in Sandy Hook and now works for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told his story and asked young people to step up and work to end the violence. Mayors Against Illegal Guns started with a handful of mayors, but is now 950 strong and they are working to affect change through their work with Congress and the media:
You can help: http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/... They have a Facebook page.
Elliot Fineman whose son was shot and killed by a deranged man while he sat in a restaurant with his wife in San Diego in 2006 was also there. He is the founder of National Gun Victims Action Council. He advocates for change through economic boycotts. He is hopeful that he can get millions of people to sign a pledge to target states and corporations with boycotts, which he advocates on his website. You can help:
http://gunvictimsaction.org/ They has a Facebook page.
A representative of http://shameoncongress.org/... Josh Horwitz was there. His group has partnered with the Newtown Action Alliance to take action against those senators who voted against the background check bill. You can help. And yes, they have a Facebook page.
Also there. Connecticut Senator Bluementhal and an aide to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy. Murphy was presiding over the senate and could not attend. Both he and Bluementhal are continually lobbying fellow senators and hope to change the minds of those who voted against the latest bill. Sen. Bluementhal reported that he can see a change of heart in some of those senators, mainly because of the backlash that they are feeling for having voted no. He urged us to keep up the pressure and also to begin calling our Representative in the House, as their is also a bill there for background checks. It has 150 co-sponsors as of yesterday, a first for that kind of legislation. All they need is 215 votes to pass it. The representative from shameoncongress.org, who has been working as a lobbyist for gun control for two decades in D.C., says he has never seen the kind of backlash after failed legislation that he's seeing now on the Senate bill. He expressed renewed optimism and says he can see minds changing every day and he's sure something will get done this year.
All cautioned us to stay active, never stop the pressure and never give up hope. Both my husband and I came away with a feeling of hope. We listened to the people who are on the front lines in the D.C. bubble, and they are saying that for the first time in 20 years of working to pass gun safety laws, they feel confident that it's going to happen.
They promised to "out" those in congress who tack riders to benefit the NRA onto must-pass legislation. In the last spending bill that passed, riders were tacked on that directly benefited the NRA's craziness and made it harder for people to sue for damages because certain info cannot be used against gun manufacturers....in essence they are protected, unlike any other industry, from lawsuits against their products, which cause the most egregious damage.
It sounded to us at that meeting that this fight has just begun. It sounded like it's ferocious and determined to win for the first time in decades. We don't hear about what's going on in the background from the media. But there is much being done.
I'm so glad we drove up to Newtown last night.