Saturday, April 20, 2013

Columbine: 14 years later (Part 1) Has anything changed?

Today, marks the 14th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. Has anything changed? Are our children safer? There have been over 100 school shootings since Columbine (some involve multiple fatalities, some involve single fatalities or injuries). In the wake of the Aurora and Newtown massacres, Colorado and Connecticut have stepped up and passed new gun control legislation that serves as a model for the federal government, who most cowardly and shamefully, this past Wednesday, failed to pass a bi-partisan bill for expanded background checks. Apparently, there is no death toll, no massacre count, that will ever reach the hearts of these senators. They are only concerned with re-election, and their campaigns are funded by NRA money. 

Gaby Giffords said it best in a great op-ed piece this week: "If we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way."

This seems like our best and only option to pass sensible gun laws.

Here is another excellent article by Joe Nocera in the NY Times today. It's about Katie Lyles, a student at Columbine on the day of the massacre, who ran to safety to a nearby house in the neighborhood. Today, she is an art teacher at an elementary in Littleton, Colorado, not far from Columbine. This past Wednesday, she was in Washington, D.C. lobbying for the background checks bill with the National Education Association. She is very disappointed, but she says,  "You can't give up just because you lose one battle."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Today, I attended a rally at City Hall organized by One Million Moms for Gun Control. I am the Coalition Coordinator for the Manhattan chapter. 1MM4GC is picking up the baton from Million Moms March that started in 2000. 1MM4GC was founded on Facebook by Shannon Watts, a mother of five from Indiana, the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The goal of the rally was both to celebrate Governor Cuomo's success last week in passing the NY Safe Act, which is the strongest gun control legislation in the nation, and to encourage President Obama to move forward with his gun control plan.

We met at Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn Heights this morning. It was great to see so many women that I've come to know through various gun control organizations and events over the past 14 years. Donna Dees Thomases, who founded and organized the Million Moms March in D.C. in 2000 and Edie Smith, Nancy Regalado, and Barbara Holt from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. I met some new moms from the 1MM4GC Manhattan Chapter: Erika, Rochelle, and Zoe. There were some moms from my daughters' school as well. It was wonderful to see so many children holding up signs with messages demanding change to make their lives safer.

Then, we all lined up and headed for the Brooklyn Bridge. I took lots of photos. It was quite a sight to see hundreds of people marching over the bridge. It was my first time walking across. This was the perfect way to do it. The view was incredible. Lady Liberty had her arm raised in solidarity with our chants of "Gun Control Now!" When we got to the Manhattan side of the bridge, people were holding  up their signs, and the cars heading to Brooklyn began to honk in support.

Next, we walked to the south end of City Hall Park for the rally. There were some very powerful speakers including, Shannon Watts, Councilwoman Letitia James, Jackie Rowe-Adams (Harlem Mothers SAVE), and Rabbi Joshua Davidson of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester. Police Commissioner Kelly was there too. For the finale Elizabeth Mitchell, Susan Lori-Parks, and others sang "This  Little Light of Mine."

The overall message was that the epidemic of gun violence in America is our collective responsibility, and that we need to work together to take action NOW to stop it.

It was an inspiring day. I am fired up for the march on Washington, D.C. this Saturday!