It’s been four days after Sante Fe, Texas, the latest school shooting. Ninety-seven days after Parkland. We’ve had so many mass shootings, we rely on a Joe Friday, staccato shorthand to describe the indescribable.
Sante Fe, May 2018, 10 killed, 13 injured
Parkland, Feb 2018, 17 killed, 17 injured
Sutherland Springs, Nov 2017, 26 killed, 20 injured
Las Vegas, Oct 2017, 58 killed, 851 injured
Pulse nightclub, June 2016, 49 killed, 53 injured
Sandy Hook, Dec. 2012, 26 killed, 2 injured
Since Sandy Hook, we’ve had 1,686 mass shootings in the U.S., with 1,941 deaths and 7,104 people injured, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The Archive notes that the three days after the Sante Fe shooting were among this year’s most violent. Gunfire killed 88 people and injured another 222.
At least one Sante Fe student said she expected shootings to happen at her school; gun violence has become that commonplace.
We do have one power to prevent the next mass shooting.
We can vote.
It’s four days after Sante Fe, 168 days before November 6, the midterm elections. The first Tuesday in November is our chance to save lives.
We can vote out officials who have refused to pass common-sense gun laws. Electeds who won’t pass gun reform don’t deserve re-election. After all the deaths, still, too many lawmakers aren’t listening. On Friday, hours after the Sante Fe killings, Maryland high school students staged a die-in outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Capitol office. Four students were arrested because they demanded Congress vote on common-sense gun laws. Congress ignored their plea.
On November 6, voters have the power to make lawmakers listen. We the people will decide who gets all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, plus 35 of the Senate’s 100 seats. Minnesota voters will elect a new governor, both U.S. Senators, 8 U.S. representatives plus all 134 seats in the MN House, where Republicans now hold majority.
It’s been two days since the Minnesota Legislature adjourned. In four months, legislators accomplished– well, almost nothing. They refused to consider any common-sense gun bills, including background checks and red flag bills. They couldn’t even pass a hands-free cell phone driving bill, which had broad bipartisan support and no organized opposition.
November 6 is when the people can shape the future, creating a wave that washes out the do-nothings and brings in a surge of actual leaders.
Of course, one election can’t fix everything. This midterm won’t change who sits in the White House. Still, voters can send a warning that we’re paying attention. In 2020, voters can remember that both the president and vice president spoke at this month’s N.R.A. Convention, promising the gun industry that no sensible gun laws would happen as long they they were in the White House.
November’s election is about more than preventing gun violence; it’s the day Americans can begin remedying so many tragedies, so many wrongs. After yet another mass shooting, after yet another Muslim travel ban, after yet another attack on the environment, on immigrants rights, workers rights, women’s rights…
After the relentless battering of civil liberties and human decency, citizens can use our super power, the ballot box.
With 168 days before polls open, now’s the time to register voters, doorknock and phonebank, donate to candidates and causes who will represent us and protect us, instead of gun manufacturers.
After Friday’s mass shooting, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo made the case for the urgency of voting:
“We need to start using the ballot box and ballot initiatives to take the matters out of the hands of people that are doing nothing, that are elected, into the hands of the people to see that the will of the people of this country is actually carried out.”
On November 6, when I stand in the voting booth, I’ll pause to remember the students and teachers of Sante Fe and Parkland, Red Lake and Columbine.
The dead can’t vote.
We the living, we the people, we can vote.