Now Is the Time. Actually, It's Past Time, Speaker Boehner
By Colin Goddard
Trayvon Martin, Gabrielle Giffords, The Virginia Tech 32, The Columbine 13. Reagan, JFK. All shot by people who shouldn't have had access to guns.
After each of these tragedies, leading politicians have said, basically, "Now is not the time to talk about gun policy."
Last year, House Speaker John Boehner said it a nanosecond after the attack on Congresswoman Giffords and the others in Arizona.
The fact is, the tragedies that make national headlines represent only a small fraction of the thousands of deaths that occur every year at hands of people who never should have had guns. It is easier to take home a gun in our country than an adopted dog from a shelter.
Convicted felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, even terrorists, can buy guns in most states through gun shows or private sales over the internet with no background check whatsoever.
If Speaker Boehner knew firsthand what it was like to lose a loved one because of one of these people who never should have had a gun, would he think differently? Would it then be time to talk about gun policy?
On Monday, I'm going to try to meet with Speaker Boehner, and as many Members of Congress as I can. I want to ask simple questions like, "Do you think a convicted felon should be able to buy, carry or use a gun anywhere in our nation?"
I'll be joined by 31 of my friends, friends who I probably wouldn't have ever met except that they, too, were victims of guns in the hands of dangerous people who never should have had them. I've written to the Speaker (and other Congressional leaders) asking to meet. As of this point I've heard he's too busy.
I was shot four times at Virginia Tech -- five years ago this coming Monday, April 16. It's a sickening and surreal feeling, to be lying on the floor, hearing a constant BANG! BANG! BANG!, feeling the warmth your own blood, smelling what smells like fireworks on the 4th of July. It's absolutely terrifying, and it's nothing like you see glorified in movies.
I talk about it at length in a documentary about the shooting called Living for 32 that is going to be watched at more than 32 colleges and universities Monday evening, and I'll be discussing my experience after the movie in a livestreamed Q and A with NBC News' Luke Russert.
After the fourth shot, the shooter must have thought he got me, so he moved on. Seconds later, he shot himself, but I didn't learn that until the SWAT team stormed the room.
What does it say about Mr. Boehner if he, as the Speaker of "The People's House" will not meet with me and 31 other victims of gun violence to discuss how our tragedies might have been prevented?
I know the Speaker has met with people from the gun industry and their lobbyists at the NRA -- the House recently passed a bill to force every state to allow in people carrying loaded, concealed guns from every other state -- your own state requirements be damned.
Is Mr. Boehner scared to face the consequences of his actions, or complete lack thereof, as he has done the bidding of the gun lobby? Does he just want to sweep us under the carpet? We know he is an emotional guy. Might facing the real human toll of his political expediency force him to rethink his actions? Or might it just be embarrassing?
We must demand change now. We can't wait for another mass-shooting -- another "Breaking News" banner with people crying, ambulances screaming, flowers piling, then candles lighting. And, given the reaction of Congress I wouldn't count on them to do anything no matter how horrific the next tragedy might be.
That's why we need to take matters into our own hands. We can't hope for something to change anymore. We have to make it change. We have to put the realities of what happens when dangerous people have easy access to guns right in their face.
Every day in America, 32 people are murdered by guns. That's a "Virginia Tech" happening in our nation every single day. That's why there will be 32 of us walking the halls of Congress next week. But we will not just be there speaking for ourselves and our lost loved ones. We will be speaking for all of the 30,000 Americans who are lost to guns every year -- all of their families loved ones and communities -- all Americans who are sick and tired of living with the preventable tragedy of gun violence in our nation and who demand accountability from our elected leaders to end it.
Mr. Speaker, we're coming over to your office this week, and the offices of many of your colleagues. If you think it's not "appropriate" to talk about gun violence during the week that marks both Virginia Tech and Columbine -- the worst shootings in our country's history -- then when would it be for you?