Bring Back the Senate for Gun Control

What a shame Congress can’t do anything to stop this country’s epidemic of mass shootings and deaths by white supremacist gun violence. Except, oh wait, they can. And they have. Or rather, they would. Except Mitch McConnell won’t let them.

The House of Representatives passed two gun control bills in February 2019: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for private gun sales (think online sales and gun shows); and H.R. 1112, which would extend the waiting period from the background check system before a sale can proceed, from the current three days to ten days. Normally, the bills would now go to the Senate and be referred to the appropriate committees. Instead, McConnell placed them on the Senate calendar, which sounds good but isn’t, it actually means they’re just … sitting there, while more people die.

In addition, the Senate has before it S. 42, introduced in January 2019 and cosponsored by both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, which would prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The bill is in the Judiciary Committee, which both of our Senators sit on – and which is chaired by Lindsey Graham, whose support for gun control is limited to talking about “red flag” laws, which allow local law enforcement officials to temporarily seize guns from people who may pose a risk to themselves or others.

Meanwhile, mass shootings go on. And on. And the Senate is in recess, with the GOP offering its usual thoughts and prayers.

Senators Feinstein and Harris have both called for the Senate to act:

The House has already passed a universal background check bill that would make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns. The Senate could return to Washington this week and vote on that bill, but Senate Republican leaders continue to say no.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, August 4, 2019 

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House in February—but it hasn’t even received a hearing in the Senate. It’s past time to take action. To Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, I say: have some courage. Let’s vote.

Sen. Kamala Harris, August 5, 2019 

Amen, and amen.

What you can do:

1. Call Sens. Feinstein and Harris. It may not seem like they need your call since they’re already doing the right thing, but remember: the NRA will always mobilize its membership and you can be sure that our Senators are hearing loud and clear from gun control opponents. They need to hear from US!

What to say:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator _________ for supporting gun control legislation. The Senator is right: the Senate needs to reconvene, now, to vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112. Trump is cheering on white supremacist violence and Mitch McConnell is enabling it by refusing to let the Senate vote on these bills. Also, I hope the Senator will use her position on the Judiciary Committee to do everything possible to pass S. 42.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

2. Support these organizations:

 

Graphic: “U.S. Senate To Increase Work Days” by Mike Licht

March For Our Lives & Other Events Against Gun Violence

There are numerous events against gun violence on different dates in different locations. We will add to and edit this list as we learn of new events and/or updates.

March 14: School Walkouts:

Schools and students nationwide will participate in a 17-minute walkout on March 14 at 10 AM (local time), to honor the 17 people killed on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and to protest gun violence. KRON-4 News has put together this comprehensive list of all the participating schools in the entire Bay Area. Some school districts, including Oakland, Alameda, and Piedmont, have issued district-wide policies stating that they will be working with students on various events and activities for that day. Note: IEB is not encouraging students to do anything that could endanger their academic careers, and we don’t know whether specific schools will mark students absent, etc., or whether parental notification will affect the school’s handling of individual cases.

March 24: March For Our Lives

Student organizers and Everytown for Gun Safety are organizing March for Our Lives events on March 24 in locations around the country and around the world, aided by celebrity support and donations. This is the weekend event that families can go to together and kids and teens can attend without missing school. Bay Area locations include:

  • Oakland: 10 AM-1 PM, Frank Ogawa Plaza. Register here. The March is looking for volunteers; email OaklandMarch@gmail.com.
  • Richmond: 11 AM, Downtown Richmond, 1300 Nevin Ave
  • San Leandro: 9-11:30 AM. Gather at Washington Elementary, San Leandro at 9 AM to make signs; march begins at 9:45 AM; rally begins at 10:15 AM with speakers and activities (postcard making, letter writing, and refreshments). This event is suitable for families with young children.
  • Walnut Creek: 11 AM, location downtown Walnut Creek TBD
  • San Francisco: 1 PM, Civic Center Plaza. Interested in volunteering? Reach out here.
  • Search for an event near you here.

April 20: The Anniversary of Columbine

The two students who massacred their fellow students and several teachers at their high school in Columbine, Colorado on April 20, 1999 used explosives and other weapons of mass destruction as well as guns, but Columbine is generally recognized as the mass school shooting that began the modern plague that our nation has suffered from unremittingly in the nearly two decades since. In those days before live internet news, people watched and listened in horror as radio and TV reported what was previously unimaginable. Now, a student who lives near Sandy Hook, site of another previously unimaginable school shooting, has originated a call to mark the date: Friday, April 20 will see school walkouts throughout the country. We’ll list Bay Area events as we learn of them.

Graphic: #MarchForOurLives

Calling BS On Thoughts and Prayers

There aren’t words for what happened in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. The trauma inflicted on the students and their families is so unimaginably vast that it may alter the course of American history.

Parkland’s students are forging their heartbreak and anger into action. Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, stood in front of the world’s news cameras and spoke her truth to the nominal leader of the free world just days after February 14:

If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. But hey, you want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know: $30 million. … To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!

Gonzalez and her classmates are calling BS on the fiction that tighter regulation doesn’t save lives. It does. Fewer guns means fewer deaths, every time.

They demand that we take action, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to do so. Here’s where you come in. You can:

Support legislation requiring reasonable regulation of firearms:

Let Your MoC Know How You Feel About Their Track Record:

 

  • Outside the East Bay:
    • Explore this NPR chart to see how your Members of Congress have voted on gun bills.
    • Find out whether your representatives are funded by the NRA.
    • If your MoCs support gun safety, thank them! You can be sure the NRA is getting their members to give them grief, and they need to hear from you.
    • If your MoCs oppose reasonable regulation of firearms or are being bought by the NRA, tell them they’re not representing your wishes; tell them you won’t vote for them and will work against them. This fundraising piece from Gabby Giffords has graphics you can print and make into a postcard or tape to a piece of paper. You can use Giffords’ tweets for inspiration for your message too.

Hit the Streets and Support the Students:

Support and Donate to a Gun Safety Organization:

 

CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Photograph of Emma Gonzalez copyright CNN