It is too early to hear the narratives from the families of the 19 children slain this week at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, near San Antonio, Texas. But narratives from the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting, the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and 16 other deadly gun violence events have just been published by Red Penguin books. From Bullet to Bullhorn is the second book published by Lois A. Schaffer, whose first book, The Unthinkable: Life, Loss, and a Mother’s Mission to Ban Illegal Guns, chronicled the loss of her daughter to gun violence in 2008.
When it comes to gun massacres in the U.S., the public often anticipates — and wants— a “tipping point” in which bloodshed would be so shocking and intolerable that anti-gun violence laws would be enacted. At the top of the list for most gun safety advocates would be better background checks and banning military-style weapons such as “assault weapons” and large-capacity magazines.
But if the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in which 26 were killed, 20 children, the 2016 Orlando nightclub killing in which 49 people were killed, and the 2017 Las Vegas massacre in which 60 were killed and 411 were wounded weren’t tipping points, what are? Many thought when a member of Congress itself, Gabby Giffords, an Arizona representative, was shot in 2011, Congress would realize gun violence had come home to roost in their own nest, but nothing happened. Despite the years and even decades-long efforts of anti-gun violence advocates, some writing in “From Bullet to Bullhorn,” massacres like that at Robb Elementary School are quickly forgotten, and no gun safety laws are passed.
Several family members of gun violence victims in From Bullet to Bullhorn note that when other countries have a gun massacre, preventive laws are swiftly enacted and the bloodshed happens “never again.” They indict the NRA, whose outsized influence exceeds its actual membership, for the inability to get traction for anti-gun violence laws. Specifically, lawmakers have been afraid to support gun safety laws out of fear the mob-like black hand of the gun lobby would defeat their re-election efforts. Corporations have also refused to take a stand against gun violence because, as one unnamed CEO told me in 2018, “we don’t get involved in politics.”
But that was then! Corporations are no longer afraid of taking political stands in the last few years. They are boycotting bigoted states, relieving their backward executives of their command, and taking stands unheard of a few years ago. From the boardroom on down, corporations are refusing to tolerate racial injustice, racially motivated violence, anti-LGBT sentiments and are speaking out about the urgent need for climate change actions.
Corporations can exert economic leverage. They can pull their offices and satellites, if not headquarters, from states that refuse to pass the most rudimentary gun laws and cancel conventions — economically maroon them. Let the lawmakers explain to their constituents why they lost their jobs. Hopefully, the lawmakers will permit — kicking and screaming —gun safety laws to pass, if not because they support them, at least for their state’s economic wellbeing.
The NRA membership is reportedly 5.5 million compared with over 50 million children in U.S. public schools and likely 100 million of their parents. Why should this be a contest? Why should lawmakers and corporations be held hostage by the small number of gun lobbyists responsible for killing their children? Are you listening, woke corporations?
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