My husband interrupted my Saturday afternoon of chasing toddlers and landscaping to alert me that our congressman, Trey Hollingsworth, had just knocked on our door.
Hollingsworth has never held a town hall and has not been readily available to speak with his constituents. He’s like a congressional Bigfoot I had never sighted. Although my hair was a mess and I was covered in literal dirt, I couldn’t let the opportunity to share my thoughts pass by.
The 10 lives senselessly lost at Santa Fe High School just the previous day weighed heavily on my heart and mind. I don’t fear ISIS or violent immigrants no matter how much Trump tweets about them. But I worry about the terrorism regularly occurring within our own borders.
I introduced myself to the congressman, offered my hand, and told him exactly that. When I reminded him that 10 lives were lost at yet another school shooting, he shook his head and responded, “Yes, it’s sad.”
I recalled images of the congressman shooting at a firing range and proudly proclaiming that he was the only district candidate to be endorsed by the NRA. So I asked him — how much money did he accept from the NRA?
He crossed his arms, stepped back, and shook his head. “Oh, I don’t know. It’s all public record though. You can look it up.”
I already had.
I told the congressman how much money he had accepted from the NRA and the only response I received was a slight shrug. But I understand the thousands of dollars from the NRA may have seemed minuscule to the multimillionaire.
I asked him what specifically he planned to do to combat gun violence. Beyond thoughts and prayers, what policies would he support or implement? He suggested “hardening schools” and supporting school resource officers.
He claimed when it came to gun control, many just want to repeal the second amendment. But he doesn’t want to do that and insists we can’t do that. I told him, reassuringly, that in fact there are very few advocates of repealing the second amendment compared to the many Americans who support common sense gun reform. He asked, “Like what? What do you suggest?”
I brought up a few common sense solutions to reduce gun violence, including keeping firearms away from convicted domestic abusers. Perpetrators of domestic violence are a deadly threat to both their intimate partners and the public. Nearly two-thirds of women killed by guns were killed by their intimate partners. Domestic violence has also been a commonality in mass shootings, with 57 percent of mass shootings involving the killing of a family member or a current or former intimate partner.
Like many other states, Indiana currently has some laws preventing convicted domestic abusers from owning firearms. But there are significant loopholes. For example, the laws in Indiana bar domestic batterers who are married or share a child with their victims from owning firearms. But, if the domestic batterer was dating their victim, there are no laws preventing firearm ownership.
I used this as an example to show that there are many loopholes in our current gun laws both at the state and federal level. But closing these loopholes and keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of potentially dangerous people just makes sense. Common sense gun reform isn’t about disarming all law-abiding, responsible Americans. It’s about identifying those dangerous individuals at a risk of committing gun violence and reforming the process that makes it so easy to obtain lethal weapons.
The congressman asked his assistant to write down the name of my favorite gun control advocacy group, Moms Demand Action. He said he had never heard of them but would look them up. I encouraged him to please do so. I thanked him for his time, shook his hand again and even snapped a selfie with his blessing.
I urged the congressman to take action against gun violence because we need a response beyond thoughts and prayers. No parent should fear to send their child to school. No victim of domestic abuse should die a statistic. No one suffering from mental illness should be able to obtain a firearm easier thangetting care for their condition.
From Congress to the White House, our officials do not work for the NRA. They work for us.
Most Americans don’t believe our current gun laws go far enough and favor stricter measures including raising the legal age someone can purchase a firearm and banning semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15. By embracing the gun lobby and refusing to take action on gun violence, Congress is ignoring the voice of the people they vowed to represent.
And we will vote them out.
We demand our representatives propose new laws aiming to save lives lost from gun violence. We ask that they vote with our interests in mind, not the gun lobby. We will confront them about their contributions from groups like the NRA. We will implore them to turn their inaction into action.
It doesn’t matter if we have to leave our homes with messy hair and run down the street to do this, we will. We will because we have to. Our lives depend on it.