According to national polls, greater than 90% of Americans favor background checks for all gun sales. This overwhelming sentiment for universal background checks, a key feature of S.649, didn't sway Senate Republicans, despite the bill being co-sponsored by a Republican, Pat Toomey (R-PA). Four Democratic senators, facing re-election in conservative, gun-friendly states, failed to support the bill; Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana. All but four Republicans voted against the bill.
So, what do we do now?
The NRA and gun lobby have proven effective in turning their strident opposition to gun control into grassroots support for candidates, as well as cold hard cash for campaigns. The problem, as I see it, is that public sentiment has not, at least in the minds of the senators who opposed gun control, translated into tangible support for their campaigns. Nor has it in their minds, translated into effective opposition to their campaigns. We have to change that. Here's how:
- build a powerful grassroots effort through networking, physical and virtual
- ensure our efforts are well-publicized by writing letters to the editor, blogging, posting on Facebook, posting on Google+, and by finding opportunities to speak at public events
- tell members of Congress what we're doing through direct emails, and posts on their Facebook pages
- build coalitions with outdoor sporting organizations that support sensible gun control
- ensure that the Democratic National Committee knows that we consider gun control a make or break issue for democratic candidates
- support the campaigns of candidates who support gun control
The first thing I did today was to email my Washington State senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and thank them for supporting the measure.
Next, I went on line to Organizing for Action and made a donation, and signed up as a volunteer, doing the sort of thing I'm doing now.
Next, I emailed the four democratic senators who voted against the bill and gave them a piece of my mind. I told them I intended to contact the DNC and demand that they withhold support in the 2014 election. I also went to their Facebook page and made my views known. Once again, they are:
Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
Mark Begich of Alaska
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Max Baucus of Montana
I'll also email the Republican senators who supported the measure; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois and John McCain of Arizona
In order to make my concerns about these senators known to the Democratic Party, I will write to the Democratic National Committee and tell them that I will withhold financial support to the party as a whole as long as it supports these senators, or any Democratic senators who don't support gun control. My donations to elections will be candidate specific, and gun control will be the top priority. Yes, there are other crucial issues, but in order to get this thing done, we have to be as single minded as the NRA.
I am making a recurring donation to one of the organizations below that promote gun control. Pick one you like and do the same.
- Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
- Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
- Mayors Against Illegal Guns
- States United to Prevent Gun Violence
- Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
- Campaign to Close the Gun Show Loophole
- Americans for Responsible Solutions
When you go to one of these web sites promoting gun control, "like" the site, or otherwise network it to your friends. For example, you can do this on Americans for Responsible Solutions here.
I am once again emailing my local representative, 'Doc' Hastings and demanding that he support sensible gun control legislation. I've done this before, and I'll do it again and again, and the next time he runs for election, I'll support his opponent, as I've done in the past. Yes, Hastings may be hopeless, but he won't get a free pass from me. Here's his contact information:
2715 St. Andrews Loop, Suite D
Pasco, WA 99301
Fax: (509) 545-1972
402 E. Yakima Avenue, Suite 760
Yakima, WA 98901
Fax: (509) 452-3438
I am continuing to make my voice heard locally by writing letters to the editor and op-ed pieces, by blogging, and by employing Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. I hope you'll do the same.
And remember who you're doing this for. Not the kids who died at Sandy Hook. It's too late for them. Do it for their loved ones and for yours.