A Washington DC family trip aligned with the beginning of what will be a movement.
Long before the Highland Park shootings we planned this getaway to see our nation’s capital. When I learned there was going to be a collection of moms – very angry and motivated moms and teachers and community members – speaking out about banning assault weapons, I made this part of our plans.
Kitty Brandtner, a Illinois working mom of 3 children under the age of 5, in a matter of a week, along with 60 other committee members, set out to be heard. They have people’s attention. And they are listening. In a matter of 7 days, they have nearly 15,000 Instagram followers. Today, there were well over the anticipated 500 in attendance for an assembly that will demand change.
I introduced myself to Kitty inside Union Station and she and her team expressed nothing by sincere, repeated gratitude for being in attendance. Then while I listened to Kitty speak, a wave of emotions took over and completely changed something at my core. I often thought – why has this become our reality? After reading a sign that read, “I want my son to grow up – and the following words crossed off – to be a doctor…” I felt compelled to share some of what I took part in.
This is not a policial post. Bullets do not have party affiliations. This is not my side or your side or anything of the sort. This is an everyday problem. Gun violence in the United States is an everyday problem. And this everyday human issue must end. Humans made this problem, humans can fix this problem. Or at least change something to try to yield a different outcome. Someone today said if the proposed change proves not to work, then try something else – but doing nothing is nothing more than a guarantee there will be more of what is happening everyday in this country – mass shootings with large loss of life.
Many people spoke and they were brave and grieving and the words they shared were very difficult to hear – one Uvalde couple in particular, questioned if there would have been a different outcome had they taken their daughter home after the award ceremony instead of having her finish out the school day.
Another mom of two young children in Highland Park who herself was gun violence survivor before July 4th. She spoke about the seconds – literal seconds on July 4th where she looked up, surveying the scene as she now often does and saw the shooter dressed as a woman and ran to a store where her husband managed to seek safety. Not knowing where her oldest child was – a 3 year old. He was later brought to the store with her in-laws and all were okay. All while her husband created an area of refuge for parade goers.
The stories, one after another. As I continued to listen story after story after story there was one common denominator – assault weapons.
In a matter of seconds, it destroys whatever is in its path. Destroys. Ballistic proof backpacks, vests nor bulletproof white boards will not protect anyone from a high powered assault weapon. Wearable protective barriers would not have saved any child stuck by an AR in Uvalde, parade goer in Highland Park or countless other mass shootings that have taken place.
The power of this type of weapon is beyond comprehension – unless you were one of the thousands upon thousands of US families who have had to identify someone killed by an AR. Then it is quite clear the damage that can be done. And if you live in this country, the statistics are staggering. You either know someone who has, you have been personally or will be directly affected by gun violence at some point in your life.
The momentum to change must continue and not stop. The stories were horrific. And graphic and hard and uncomfortable. And I felt heartbreak and madness and helpless – but I, we – we are not helpless. We have a voice. We need to use our voice. Loud voices – determined, loud and angry moms can do just about anything.
Good guys with more guns is not the answer, barriers and protective equipment are not the answer – policy change banning assault weapons now is the only acceptable response to these efforts. Otherwise, we will just continue to normalize behaviors and await reports of more and more killing sprees.
Never in my life did I think I would be in DC with my almost 13yo son marching to beg for policy change. I brought him along because I wanted him to witness a group of organized and peaceful humans demonstrate. He saw this. And he also shared so much concern and fear and everyday thoughts of his own safety he had not spoken much about before.
As the rally progressed the why question I often found myself having transformed and is now replaced by how. How? We will assemble, work together and demand change.
We must do better. #enough
**I am having a difficult time putting my thoughts into words. I did not keep track of names or titles of elected officials who took part in March Fourth very well. Yet very grateful for Kitty Brandtner and her team who are working together and assembling others. I am looking forward to doing much more.
Learn more about March Fourth HERE
Kitty Brandtner, above, holding the March Fourth Enough orange sign