At a Loss for Action I’m Turning to Words

The news this morning was all too familiar coming out of Las Vegas. A little over a year ago, America woke to a similar story about a horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, less than five miles from my home. Last year, when that story broke I felt the need to act, the same as I do today, and I did what I could. I helped raise funds for the OnePulse fund and used my role as a social media manager to help spread positive news and stories. It doesn’t feel like it was enough.

To have a shooting actually worse than Pulse in the news again, I’m faced again with the urge to do something, but what?

Well, this time, to start, I wrote the letters to my Congressmen I said I would last year but never got around to it. They’re already stamped and in the mailbox, ready to go.

But I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of faith they will make much of an impact. This blog has about six followers, and more eyes are likely to read what I have to say here than will at the receiving address.

However, I compiled a list of names from some of the most horrific incidents over the past two decades. I’m sharing my letter and the names here in hopes that if you read this and you’re going to send a letter of your own to your Congresspeople, you copy it and send it with yours. Let’s flood Congress with the humanity behind these massacres. Let’s remind them there are names to the headcounts and those names had families and we’re all tired of seeing families ripped apart.

Beyond this letter, I’m ready to find like-minded people who are interested in peaceful protest, and I’m ready to help make a change in this country. This is the world our children are growing up in and it’s at a point we can’t send them anywhere anymore and feel they’ll come home safe.

And tonight I’m going to do what I did last year when so many mother’s babies didn’t come home, I’m going to hug them extra tight and thank my stars they’re safe and sound. Please do the same with your little (and big) ones.

My letter:

Dear Senator,

Attached you will see a list of victims from only a handful of incidents dating back to the Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999. I started there because I was twelve-years-old when it happened, and it was my introduction to the horror that has become modern America. I remember how afraid I was, living in El Paso, Texas which is only a day’s drive away from Littleton, CO. I remember imagining the terror I would’ve felt at having a schoolmate hold a gun to my head and ask me if I believed in God. I remember wondering if I would’ve shown half the bravery of the girl who answered, “yes” before he shot her in the head.

The Columbine killers were teenagers able to gain access with ease to 2 nine mm, 4 shotguns, and one rifle because the laws are so lax in this country.

On December 14, 2012, while I sat waiting to cross the stage at my college graduation, the president of my university called for a moment of silence for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary and their families. What else was said that day, I don’t know because with a one-year-old at home all I could think about was the mothers of babies who were shot dead by someone who should’ve never had access to a gun. Shot dead by someone with no criminal record. Shot dead by someone who’s first offense was to gun down elementary school children and their teachers. Shot dead by someone, not on an FBI watch list. Shot dead by someone who’s mom, the gun enthusiast collecting them like I collect books, was all he needed to access his weapons.

On July 12, 2016, I woke up to the news that 49 people were gunned down a few miles from where I live in Orlando, FL. I watched those mothers cry in the street, one by one as they found out if it was their missing child dead in the morgue or in critical care at the hospital. I attended the vigils where strangers cried on each other’s shoulders. My husband and I attended the one-year anniversary events and vowed never to forget the 49 names of people lost that night.

How many names will be enough? How many names will it take to get our government to act? These are our children being shot in classrooms, at dance clubs, and now at concerts in this country at the hands of American civilians with guns.

The Constitutional right to bear arms was written over 200 years ago. Our country had no military, therefore its civilians were its militia and needed those rights to bear arms to protect their new country. Today, we have the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines to do that. If civilians want their right to bear arms then they can sign up for any one of our military outfits and be trained properly on how to use them and be using them to protect our country not destroy it.

It is time. It was time in 1999. It was time in 2012. If the killing of ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AGE children wasn’t enough, what will be? July 12, 2016 and the deadliest massacre in America up until today, still wasn’t enough?

It is time our politicians and government officials start caring more about the bodies lining our streets than the NRA and gun lobbyist dollars lining their pockets.

 So, I’m writing to ask you to support expanded background checks (at the very least) to reduce gun violence in the United States. I am begging you to vote to close the deadly loopholes in our laws that make it too easy for dangerous people to get guns.

Background checks are supported by over 90% of all Americans and are a commonsense tool for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. Background checks on gun sales are the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and help save lives.

It’s time to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of Florida and the United States.

P.S. When the final count of names is released from the Las Vegas shooting, please add them to the list. Write them in one by one at the bottom so you can experience just how many there are. It still won’t be enough. It won’t equal one second of a mother’s pain at finding out their child went to school or a dance club or a concert and didn’t come home.

Columbine – April 20, 1999
Daniel Rohrbough
Dave Sanders
Kyle Velasquez
Steven Curnow
Cassie Bernall
Isaiah Shoels
Matthew Kechter
Lauren Townsend
John Tomlin
Kelly Fleming
Daniel Mauser
Corey Depooter

Wedgwood Baptist Church – Sep 15, 1999
Kristi Beckel
Shawn C. Brown
Sydney R. Browning
Joseph D. Ennis
Cassandra Griffin
Susan Kimberley Jones
Justin Stegner Ray

DC Sniper Attacks – October 2002
Keenya Cook
Jerry Ray Taylor
Paul J. LaRuffa
Rupinder “Benny” Oberoi
Muhammad Rashid
Million A. Woldemariam
Claudine Lee Parker
Kellie Adams
Hong Im Ballenger
James D. Martin
James L. “Sonny” Buchanan
Premkumar A. Walekar
Sarah Ramos
Lori Lewis Rivera
Pascal Charlot
Caroline Seawell
Iran Brown
Dean H. Meyers
Kenneth H. Bridges
Linda Franklin
Jeffrey Hopper
Conrad E. Johnson

Virginia Tech Massacre – April 16, 2007
Ross Alameddine
Christopher James Bishop
Brian Bluhm
Ryan Clark
Austin Cloyd
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak
Kevin Granata
Matthew Gwaltney
Caitlin Hammaren
Jeremy Herbstritt
Rachael Elizabeth Hill
Emily Hilscher
Jarrett Lane
Matthew La Porte
Henry Lee
Liviu Librescu
V. Loganathan
Partahi Lumbantoruan
Lauren McCain
Daniel O’Neil
Juan Ortiz
Minal Panchal
Daniel Perez Cueva
Erin Nichole Peterson
Michael Pohle Jr.
Julia Pryde
Mary Karen Read
Reema Samaha
Waleed Mohamed Shaalan
Leslie Sherman
Maxine Turner
Nicole White

Casas Adobes, Arizona – January 8, 2011
Christina-Taylor
Dorothy “Dot” Morris
John Roll
Phyllis Schneck
Dorwan Stoddard
Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman

Aurora Movie Theater – July 20, 2012
Jonathon Blunk
Alexander “AJ” Boik
Jessie Childress
Gordon Cowden
Jessica Ghawi
John Larimer
Matt McQuinn
Micayla Medek
Veronica Moser-Sullivan
Alex Sullivan
Alexander Teves
Rebecca Wingo

Sandy Hook – December 14, 2012
Charlotte Bacon
Daniel Barden
Noah Pozner
Jack Pinto
Jesse Lewis
Grace McDonnell
Dylan Hockley
Jessica Rekos
Ana Marquez-Greene
Madeleine Hsu
Olivia Engel
James Mattioli
Chase Kowalski
Catherine Hubbard
Josephine Gay
Emilie Parker
Caroline Previdi
Avielle Richman
Benjamin Wheeler
Allison Wyatt
Vicki Soto
Mary Sherlach
Dawn Hochsprung
Rachel D’avino
Lauren Rousseau
Anne Marie Murphy

Charleston Church Shooting – June 17, 2015
Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd
Susie Jackson
Ethel Lee Lance
Depayne Middleto
Clementa C. Pinckney
Tywanza Sanders
Rev. Daniel Simmons
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Myra Thompson

San Bernadino – December 2, 2015
Robert Adams
Isaac Amanios
Bennetta Betbadal
Harry Bowman
Sierra Clayborn
Juan Espinoza
Aurora Godoy
Shannon Johnson
Larry Daniel Kaufman
Damian Meins
Tin Nguyen
Nicholas Thalasinos
Yvette Velasco
Michael Raymond Wetzel

Pulse Nightclub – June 12, 2016
Stanley Almodovar III
Amanda L. Alvear
Oscar A. Aracena Montero
Rodolfo Ayala Ayala
Antonio Davon Brown
Darryl Roman Burt II
Angel Candelario-Padro
Juan Chavez Martinez
Luis Daniel Conde
Cory James Connell
Tevin Eugene Crosby
Deonka Deidra Drayton
Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández
Leroy Valentin Fernandez
Mercedez Marisol Flores
Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz
Juan Ramon Guerrero
Paul Terrell Henry
Frank Hernandez
Miguel Angel Honorato
Javier Jorge Reyes
Jason Benjamin Josaphat
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla
Christopher Andrew Leinonen
Alejandro Barrios Martinez
Brenda Marquez McCool
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez
Kimberly Jean Morris
Akyra Monet Murray
Luis Omar Ocasio Capo
Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera
Joel Rayon Paniagua
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega
Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez
Luis Sergio Vielma
Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velázquez
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon
Jerald Arthur Wright
Edward Sotomayor Jr.
Shane Evan Tomlinson
Martin Benitez Torres
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz
Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez
Enrique L. Rios, Jr.
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodríguez
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano-Rosado

Please feel free to leave names of other shootings and victims if I’ve left anyone out.

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