More than "Thoughts and Prayers"

Friends and neighbors,

What a tragic weekend. Gunmen murdered innocent people in acts of terrorism yet again, and still we saw no real action to address our country’s epidemic of gun violence. My heart aches for each community healing from violence and for everyone wondering when their community will be next.  

While we desperately need federal leadership, please know that at the state level we are busy at work. Yesterday, I attended an event hosted by the American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, which brought lawmakers from across the country together to discuss ideas to implement back home. Since session ended in April, I’ve been working with many groups and law enforcement in Maryland to come up with solutions to offer up for mass shootings, urban violence and suicides by firearms-- and we’re making progress! Serving as chair of the working group on gun bills for the Maryland General Assembly is a tremendous opportunity to fight for a safer state, and I stay ready for the challenges ahead. 

It’s a common talking point that gun violence prevention is “complicated,” but that’s not true. We have a culture of violence today because of our country’s gun laws have been largely written by the weapons industry. Plus, white supremacy goes unchecked and shows itself in domestic terrorism nearly everyday. 

Racism and terrorism are not forms of mental illness. Period. To use mental illness as a scapegoat for gun violence stigmatizes people who are in need of real resources and support, and allows leaders to skirt the responsibility of dismantling structural racism.  

To those spineless politicians who have sold out to the NRA (which represents the gun manufacturing industry and not law-abiding gun owners): May God have mercy on your souls, because while innocent people are murdered in schools, stores and houses of worship, you will only see resistance from me.  

Gun violence has been a significant issue for my entire life-- starting from surviving a school shooting in second grade to watching Columbine unfold as a high school student 20 years ago. But in a few weeks, my husband and I will welcome our first child, and I am determined that my son and everyone’s children grow up in a more peaceful, more just world. 

Everything seems impossible until it’s done. Reducing gun violence is one of the greatest challenges of our time, but we must-- and we can-- right the course of our country. Let’s honor those we’ve lost to gun violence through progress. 

Onward and upward with more than “thoughts and prayers,”
Lesley