Advocating

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Ding! My phone alerted me of a text from Elizabeth:

Jan 24, 2018, 6:12 pm
Monday Feb 5 is the lobbying day 9:30-1:00. Lets do it!

I read and reread this text message and I squinted my eyes, trying to remember what I had agreed to, and when had I agreed to do it. Had I even agreed to do it? Two weeks later, the sun rose over our bus headed to the capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We were traveling with a busload of ladies (some with their kids) wearing red shirts and signs declaring Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (now teamed up with Everytown for Gun Safety.) These advocacy groups formed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2013.

What I liked about this group and the day in Richmond: it helped me see that THIS is one way that I can take action. Every time I hear of people killed by gunfire, my heart breaks. It happens over and over. But when we don’t know what we can do, we feel helpless in the face of it all. It’s all so… massive. And our opposition: the NRA, the gun lobby. They are large and I am but one person. I can take action, but what exactly? There’s action to take at a national level, and now I see that there is action to take at the state level. As a formerly uninterested high school history student, I’m an adult convert to enjoying history. Because I grew up in Pennsylvania, Virginia has always seemed like the south to me (it still does, especially when I leave the Northern Virginia bubble). I have my US Congressperson’s and both of my US Senators’ phone numbers programmed into my cell phone, but my state representatives don’t get much of my bandwidth.

In Richmond, we advocated with a large group of women, men, and children against a pro-gun bill in the Virginia House of Representatives that would permit people to carry concealed guns without a permit. And if that gun were purchased at a gun show, that gun owner wouldn’t have needed a background check to purchase it. (Read the Impact Statement of House Bill 1255, and follow its progress.)

So we went. We held signs. We shook hands. We had earnest conversations. We met people for whom this issue has meant loss, death, pain from all over the state of Virginia. We met and talked to State Senators and Congresspeople and legislative assistants. And I finally felt like I was doing something just by being there in support of this issue. We were strength in numbers.

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And regarding Virginia’s history, this was my first time to Richmond. We didn’t see much of the city but we received directions in an honest-to-goodness southern drawl from a lady on how to get to the Capitol Building (bless her heart). We met and celebrated advocacy with others advocating different causes. And to quote the Moms Demand Action follow-up email, we “visited over 65 offices (with constituent letters!), including appointments with our 35 priority legislators, and we had the great honor of being introduced before the Virginia Senate AND House of Delegates!” All this before lunch. It was a great day.

Thank you for reading my blog.

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