Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is one of the organizations I follow closely on Facebook. The group formed after the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at their elementary school in December 2012. Moms Demand Action is now the largest grassroots organization of moms working to reduce gun violence. It’s a cause I believe in, and I’m a mom.
Last month, when Democrats held a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to try—when all other efforts failed—to force the GOP-led body do more than offer moments of silence following the Orlando Pulse shooting of 49 people, Moms Demand Action asked its members to rally in support. They asked us to flood the House phones lines. Moms responded, along with tens of thousands of others.
“We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise. When you have to move your feet. And this is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more,” said Representative John Lewis (D-GA) who led the 26-hour sit-in.
Lewis, a civil rights leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, planned to “sit-in” until Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to call for a vote on two pieces of gun safety legislation. One would have expanded background checks. The other would have prevented suspected terrorists, who have been placed on the FBI’s no-fly list, from purchasing guns. Both measures have widespread support with the American people. Neither has ever been called up for a House vote. And unfortunately, the sit-in did not change that.
Three weeks later, following more violence and the assassinations of five Dallas police officers, still nothing has changed. The Dallas shooter is “reported to have obtained weapons through loopholes in the background check law that Republicans have fiercely refused to close,” the New York Times editorial board wrote in this op-ed today.
Yet the House majority still refuses to take some action. They’ve called for no vote—not even on the most minimal proposals for gun safety, which has Republican sponsors. And this week, they will recess again, its members leaving Washington to attend political conventions and take summer vacations.
Gun violence doesn’t take a vacation and neither should we. Keep calling. Keep speaking up for those who no longer can. Our representatives might not be there, but their offices are open and taking calls. Moms Demand Action has a quick and easy way to connect.
To help garner support following Orlando, they asked us to text #DisarmHate to 644-33. The number still works. I texted it three weeks ago and again today.
What happens when you text #DisarmHate to 644-33?
Here’s what happened last month.
And here’s what happened today.
Following both of these short text exchanges, I was patched automatically and directly to my congressman’s office, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8). An aide answered the phone. I told him that I was a constituent of Rep. Reichert’s and I was one of a majority who support gun safety legislation. He asked my name and address, thanked me for my call and the call ended. It took a minute or less.
What happens then? Does your call really make a difference?
Based on my personal experience, yes. Your call matters.
I interned for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) way back in the 90s and one of my duties was to answer the front desk phones a couple of times a week. I kept a tally of the issues constituents called about, just like the call I made to #DisarmHate.
When I called Rep. Reichert’s office last month there was a good chance I was talking to a 22-year-old intern just like I was. After recording my name and address, most likely he put a tally mark on a sheet of paper. When I worked in Washington, tallies on one side of a calling sheet were for callers who supported a particular issue, tallies on the other were for those who called in opposition.
The tally sheet mattered then. I know Sen Murray checked it every day. I’m sure it still matters now.
If the 80 to 90 percent of Americans who support common sense gun safety legislation will take a minute to call their elected officials, that’ll be a whole lot of tallies they cannot ignore.
Get your tally mark on record. Text #DisarmHate to 644-33.