A Day on the Hill

(Read about day 1 of my trip to D.C.)

Bright and early last Thursday morning I headed to the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center for the weekly coffee with Sen. John Cornyn, which I RSVP-ed for in advance (and I don’t know if they spend any time researching attendees, but I suspect they do).

Texas flag sign that say says Texas Thursday Coffee Senator John Cornyn
Even Texas signs are bigger

It was gorgeous DC day, and this sort of picture-perfect postcard view of the Capitol is enough to give even the most jaded Texas gal a little hope.

U.S. Capitol dome
Our Capitol is beautiful, majestic, and inspiring.

I joined about 50 other fellow Texans at the coffee, which was held in a large meeting room in the visitors center. I had a few minimum expectations about this event, and I had prepared for any opportunity to speak to or ask questions of the senior senator from Texas. I was ready to talk to him about the family separation policy, gun safety reform, and health care. I was also aware that I was in a room full of people who likely had diverse views on all these issues.

I got my coffee and filled out my photo information form. And then waited for something to happen.

At about 9:50 a staffer (not intern–though they were mostly young white male interns) came in and made a beeline to an older gentleman wearing a Make America Great Again hat. She spent a fair bit of time talking to him and his (I assume) wife.

A few other staffers came in and each spoke with a few folks. In the meantime, they started to line us up to take our photos with the senator. Finally Sen. Cornyn came in and went straight to the flags for photos. We were hustled through very quickly, maybe 15 seconds each, and since no one else was chatting him up I didn’t either. That was a crucial mistake.

More than 50 constituents came to the coffee, and our senator didn’t take any time to speak with us, except for banalities while shaking hands and taking a picture. He whizzed in, took photos for 10 minutes, and then disappeared. There was no welcome from him or from his staff. There was no acknowledgement that most people in the room had traveled from Texas to be there. And there was absolutely no opportunity to engage with our senator about any of the critical policy issues.

I have been to D.C. for enough meetings with members of Congress over the years to have had a certain set of expectations about what happens when 50 constituents are in the room. I learned my lesson and I’m passing it on to you: go to the coffee, get the photo, but also make the appointment and go to the office.

As interns started coming into the room to give people information about their tours, I took my last opportunity to connect with staff. I hand-delivered 300 postcards constituents had signed over the last couple of months, asking Sen. Cornyn to pass basic gun safety reforms that the vast majority of Texans and Americans support. If you wrote a postcard to Sen. Cornyn at the March for Our Lives or the Town Hall for Our Lives, they were delivered, and I hope you get a response. Please share it if you do!

Approximately 300 postcards from Sen. John Cornyn's constituents, asking for strong gun safety measures to protect our children.
Approximately 300 postcards from Sen. John Cornyn’s constituents, asking for strong gun safety measures to protect our children.

My next meeting on the hill couldn’t have been more different. I had reached out to Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s D.C. office the week before my trip and asked if I could stop by and meet some of the staffers so I could put names to faces. I expected to spend about 15-30 minutes at the office at most, but was treated to the opportunity to spend some time with each member of the congressman’s policy team. All my preparation paid off!

In the time I spent with the congressman’s staff, we discussed family separation and what’s happening here in Austin, as well as upcoming Congressional trips to the border; gun violence prevention actions and the hearing on red flag laws and safe gun storage at the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence committee on June 25; work being done to address out-of-control drug prices; the immigration bills that will hit the House floor this week (they are both bad, so call your reps!); the new poll on support for Medicaid expansion in Texas. We probably touched on a few other things I’ve forgotten.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Lisa Goodgame
Thank you for taking a few minutes to chat!

As I was about to leave, Rep. Doggett appeared, and he generously gave me a few minutes. We talked about several of the items on the list above, but most specifically about the actions Democratic members of Congress are taking to address family separation. Something is happening out there, and people are deeply moved by the horror we’re seeing play out at the border. I’m thankful for the members who are putting this issue front and center, and I hope it will drive some change in Congress. But when we see Texas members of Congress hailing the policy as a positive development while also lying that it’s happening because of a law passed by Democrats it’s hard to imagine any sort of solution. Also, do they not hear themselves contradicting themselves in that lie?

With just about an hour left in my schedule, I quickly headed to the offices of Rep. Flores, Rep. Smith, and Rep. McCaul to drop off more postcards asking for stronger gun safety measures, as well as some letters from voters. I have a plan to visit Sen. Cruz’s office next time I’m in D.C.

I caught a member of Rep. McCaul’s staff in the middle of lunch, but I made him listen to me for several minutes as I shared my concerns on the policy of family separation, the criminalization of asylum-seekers, and the need to change this inhumane response to people fleeing violence. He listened, was reasonably friendly, and promised to put my concerns in the database. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Here’s my key takeaway from this trip: really bad shit is happening in our government every single day and the executive branch agencies are being gutted and destroyed by political appointees. We can campaign our butts off trying to get new people elected in November, but right now most of our representatives are co-signing everything the president wants. Our representatives have traded away a lot of their decency for tax cuts. Each day that we don’t call or take action and engage the people who represent us right now, we are tacitly telling them that we’re OK with what they’re doing and how they are representing us.

We. Are. Not. Don’t let them forget it.

Where Has All Our Common Sense Gone? Remarks at the NRA Convention

I gave these remarks at the Texas Gun Sense press conference outside the NRA convention on May 4. Today, once again, children were slaughtered at school because our lawmakers refuse to take any meaningful action to protect them. With each mass shooting, families and communities are devastated, and the community of survivors grows ever larger. After a murderer cut our children down today in their classrooms, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a war on doors, as though they were the real culprits in today’s deaths. There is evidence to support reasonable gun reform, and it doesn’t include trapping our children inside their schools in violation of fire codes, common sense, and common decency. We need serious people in office who will pursue policies that protect our children and communities, not guns.

My name is Lisa Goodgame, and I’m the President of Indivisible Austin. We are a chapter of the national grassroots movement focused on defending democracy and holding our member of Congress accountable. We believe that gun violence prevention is one of the biggest issues we’ll face in the coming year and in the next legislative session. I speak to you today not only as an activist and advocate, but as a gun violence survivor.

In the middle of the night of October 2, 1993, my 18-year-old sister Rani Goodgame was murdered in Houston. Two young guys shot her and another young woman at a party and she died at the scene. She had just started college at the University of Houston and she planned to pursue a degree in sports psychology. But instead of graduating and having a long life ahead of her, she was cut down in a hail of bullets.

I stand here as a member of the ever-growing community of gun violence survivors. Twenty-four years to the day of my sister’s murder we woke up to news of the massacre in Las Vegas. That day the survivor community grew by thousands. Twenty-four years to the day of the shooting at Parkland my family got the notification of the latest victim impact hearing as one of her murderers comes up for parole. That day the survivor community grew by thousands.

I’m here today to represent survivors who can’t be here to speak, but I’m also here to issue a challenge to our lawmakers.

Today our senators Cornyn and Cruz will the address the NRA convention. They are both A+ rated by the NRA, but they are failing our children, communities and schools because they are beholden to the gun lobby’s special interest and letting our children die.

Our children are a special interest.

Our communities are a special interest.

Our schools are a special interest.

In his pro-NRA op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Cruz called those of us who are calling for commonsense gun reform “dunces” and “extremists.” No one speaking here today is either of those things. We aren’t dunces. We’re seeking policy change that the vast majority of Americans and Texans support. A Quinnipiac poll released on April 19 found that 94 percent of voters support universal background checks. 55 percent overall support stricter gun laws, and 53 percent want an assault weapon ban.

The majority of Texans are not dunces and they are not extremists. We are ready for political and policy change, and we’re ready to end the NRA’s stranglehold on our lawmakers.

My Sister Was Murdered With An Assault Weapon, and Better Gun Laws Might Have Stopped It From Happening

Note: This article, by Indivisible Austin Board President Lisa Goodgame, was originally posted on xojane.com in April 2013. 

Surviving sisters Lisa and Rani, with a photo of their youngest sister, who was murdered

“Her death created a rift in our family. We will always be the Goodgames before and the Goodgames after. Because she was so young, after is proving to be a very long time.”

On the night of October 1, 1993 the phone rang just as we were all climbing into bed.

Well, not quite all. My youngest sister was asleep at a friend’s house, and my parents and I were home, having returned late from a Friday night dinner.

My other sister, Rani Goodgame, wasn’t with us. Three young criminals had shot and killed her using an illegally acquired automatic weapon, among other guns. The phone was ringing to tell my parents that they needed to come identify her body.

Two of the shooters were under eighteen, and one was out on bond for another murder he’d allegedly committed a few weeks earlier. They shot another young woman that night, too. Fortunately, she survived.

My sister was 18 and had just started college. That night, all she was doing was sitting in her car outside a party. Three boys murdered her in a spray of more than 100 rounds shot from a weapon that would be banned less than a year later.

Like so many victims of gun violence, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

RIP

Early Saturday morning, the calls started coming as people heard the morning news report on the radio. Incredulous, they asked if they had just heard that a Goodgame had been shot and killed. I sat in the vestibule outside the rabbi’s office at the synagogue, waiting for him to arrive before Saturday morning services so I could tell him that one of the Goodgame girls, whom he’d known since birth, had been murdered. We didn’t think that he’d answer the phone since it was Shabbat.

I returned home to find media camped out on our street, hoping to interview us. Two days later, hundreds of people attended her funeral, which was filmed in its entirety by the local television stations.

In the following months and years, I watched my family struggle in the aftermath of losing a child, grandchild, and sister to violence. My parents seemed lost in a way I can never expect to understand, in a way I hope never to know.

My youngest sister seemed to barely make it through school that year. She and Rani were close in age and had almost always been at the same school at the same time. Her best friend had been ripped away without a moment’s notice, without a goodbye.

My relationship with my sister was in a difficult place when she was killed. We had argued the week before when she decided to move out of our parents’ home. The last conversation we had still rings in my skull. When somebody dies unexpectedly, there’s a lot of unfinished business and tangled emotions. I was angry with my sister at the time of her death. It was an anger that, had she survived, we probably would have worked through and been able to move on. Now and forever, that chance of reconciliation is gone.

At the time, I couldn’t release the anger I felt toward her. I was in shock for several months, and once I got past the denial, I found myself stuck in anger. My anger manifested itself in several ways, but the most disturbing were the nightmares I’d have in which the gun was turned on me. Maybe that was my brain’s way of moving me from anger to bargaining — if only I had been the one to die…

It took years for the anger to finally dissipate, and for me to be able to remember my sister as she was for most of her life: a goofy, smiling dancer and gymnast who loved our dogs and made a silly, pouty bottom lip when she didn’t get her way.

Her death created a rift in our family. We will always be the Goodgames before and the Goodgames after. Because she was so young, after is proving to be a very long time. After has included campaigns to keep her killers from getting paroled. This last year, since the 19th anniversary of her death in October 2012, has been an especially rough one, and not just because the 20-year mark is fast approaching. It’s been a difficult year filled with hideous acts of gun violence and the ensuing political polarization capped off by the Senate’s deeply disappointing actions yesterday.

At a time when a majority of Americans, as measured by every major poll, support stronger background checks, a ban on high capacity ammunition clips, and a ban on assault weapons, our legislators have let us down by failing to listen to the majority. They have failed to do their duty as our representatives. For me, it’s personal because the weaknesses of our laws in all three areas contributed to the climate that made it possible for three criminals, two of whom were minors, to acquire the assault weapon that killed my sister.

Sometimes it feels as though people forget about the victims and those left behind. As they clamor for their right to own any and all varieties of gun, they also sow fears and distrust that the government wants to track gun owners for the express purpose of confiscating their legally acquired and owned weapons.

Members of my own family do this. I see their posts online, the ones that garner comments calling people like me, who want smarter laws but who aren’t inherently anti-gun, “violent political extremists” because we voted for Democrats. The comments that question whether people like me are patriotic, whether we are true Americans.

I love my family, but sometimes I hate their ideals. They love me, and I’m sure they hate mine. When the issue is taxes or health care reform, I can write off our differences. But when the issue is something that touches me and the friends and families of the 3,514+ people who have been killed by gun violence just since Sandy Hook, I can’t set it aside so easily.

I can’t simply hide the wall posts and pretend they never happened. I want to make them understand, but I don’t know how to and I feel helpless. At this juncture our positions are firmly held and we, like so many Americans, are confounded by the other’s beliefs.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard President Obama’s speech while I was driving home. I was amazed at how angry he sounded, and it was an anger that I know reverberated through the Senate chamber as Vice-President Biden announced that the hard-fought compromise had failed. Had I been there, standing shoulder to shoulder with the other victims (and yes, we who live in the after are victims, too), I would likely have shouted “Shame on you!” too.

Three sisters

It’s taken me almost 20 years to be able to write this story. I have told it many times to friends and co-workers. I haven’t so much chosen to remain silent as felt that the story wasn’t ready to be told. Today on that car ride home, the story came to life.

You may not agree with me. You may think I’m using pathos to appeal on this issue. You may think the minority of Senators who blocked the bill and its amendments from moving forward yesterday were right.

We’ll have to agree to disagree, and hopefully, one day soon, America’s lawmakers will listen to the majority of their constituents. Democracy is rough go sometimes. Let’s hope it goes the people’s way sometime soon.

Tell John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and Greg Abbott to Cancel their NRA Convention Speeches

Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg AbbottPictured: NRA Tools

Arguably the three most powerful politicians in Texas (was Dan Patrick not available?) are joining Vice President Mike Pence at the annual convention of the NRA in Dallas May 3-6.

It’s time to call BS on our elected representatives, for not representing our interests. The NRA represents gun manufacturers, not gun owners, not citizens, and definitely not Texans. We stand with the majority of Americans, including gun owners, in demanding commonsense gun legislation.

Why are our two senators and our governor to beholden to the NRA that they would speak at their convention—despite (or perhaps because of?) the massive nationwide backlash against what is essentially a domestic terrorist organization. Their presence at the convention is insulting to victims of gun violence and to all Texans. Remind Cruz and Abbott that this is an election year for them, and for Cornyn in 2020, and that you’re paying attention to their sleazy alliance with gun lobbyists.

Sample, perhaps overly polite script:

It’s disappointing that you continue to align yourself with the gun lobby by speaking at the NRA convention in Dallas. Most gun owners want common sense gun control; the NRA’s only mission is to sell more guns.

In the wake of preventable shootings in Texas, Florida, and every other state, I hope you will reconsider your attendance at the convention.

Voters are paying attention to who your friends are.

And if you’re in the Dallas area, protests begin at noon at City Hall Plaza on May 5th. And Indivisible Women Tarrant County is holding a die-in the night before.

April 8th: Town Hall for Our Lives in Austin

This post will be updated as details emerge. 

View this event on Facebook

SAVE THE DATE: Town Hall for Our Lives.

Sunday, April 8th 2-5 p.m.

William B. Travis High School
1211 E. Oltorf St, Austin, Texas 78704

Save the date! All area Members of Congress and candidates are invited to participate in a town hall to discuss gun violence and gun violence prevention in America/Texas. Participants to be added as they RSVP. More details will be updated shortly.

Confirmed participants to date:
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (HD-51)
Mary Wilson (D candidate, TX-21)
Christine Mann (D candidate, TX-31)
Julie Oliver (D candidate, TX-25)
Chris Perri (D candidate, TX-25)
Joseph Kopser (D candidate, TX-21)
Mike Siegel (D candidate, TX10)

Co-hosted by March for Our Lives Austin, Moms Demand Action, Texas Gun Sense, Indivisible Austin, Voto Latino, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas, National Association of Social Workers Texas chapter, Texas Capitol Walkout for Gun Safety, Literary Women in Action, ADAPT of Texas, Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas, Counter Balance ATX, Austin Justice Coalition, and others to be announced.

Please take note of the parking directions below. The entrance to the school’s parking is on Oltorf, and parking will be in the main lot behind the school. There is a short walk to the auditorium’s entrance.

This is an accessible event, and ASL interpretation will be provided thanks to ADAPT of Texas. Accessible parking is available in the main parking lot and a few spots in front of the school.

Please share this event RSVP with all the students in your life. We look forward to seeing you at tomorrow’s town hall.

How Your Voice Are Making a Difference: March for Our Lives

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world showed up at more than 800 March for Our Lives rallies organized by students outraged by Congress’s lack of action on instigating sensible gun reform—including more than 20,000 in Austin, and a similar number in Parkland, FL, where a school shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Donald, in Florida to golf yet again, had his motorcade route altered so as not to trouble himself seeing all the demonstrations. And farther down on the low road, an NRATV host taunted the Parkland kids, saying “No one would know your names” if it hadn’t been for the shooting.

But the world is listening—and responding—even if Congress isn’t. Kroger chain Fred Meyer has said it will phase out its sales of firearms, just two weeks after deciding not to sell firearms and ammunition to those under age 21. A recently filed Oregon initiative would makemanufacturing, importing, possessing, purchasing or selling an assault weapon or large capacity magazine a crime, and require registration with police of all existing assault weapons. YouTube continues to ban various firearms videosCitigroup has announced new restrictions on firearms purchases for customers who offer Citi-backed credit cards or conduct any other credit/banking functions through the company: the new policies prohibit the sale of firearms to customers who have not passed a background check or who are younger than 21. It also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

In policy news, education secretary Betsy DeVos attempted to gut funding for her department by $3.6 billion—instead, Congress voted for a $3.9 billion increase in education funding—none of which is earmarked for DeVos’s pet school choice programs that disadvantage economically disadvantaged families. From the Washington Post: “She wanted to eliminate money for after-school programs for needy youth and ax a grant program that helps low-income students go to college in favor of spending more than $1 billion to promote charter schools, magnet schools and private school vouchers…. Her budget would have eliminated grant programs that supported student mental-health services — a move that received scrutiny in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.”

A panel of federal judges in Pennsylvania rejected the GOP’s attempt to block new redistricting from taking place after a ruling that existing districts were unfairly gerrymandered, dismissing Republican lawmakers’ lawsuit claiming that the state supreme court overstepped its authority in making that ruling.

In Wisconsin, Republican governor Scott Walker was ordered by a judge he himself appointed to hold special elections in two districts where he has been refusing to do so. Walker and the Wisconsin GOP are attempting to flout the court order and change the law the ruling was based on.

Some Republicans are finally fleeing their party: Charles Djou, former Republican Congressman from Hawaii, announced he is leaving the GOP because he can no longer stay in a party led by Donald Trump. Retired army lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters, a frequent analyst on FOX News, has publicly severed ties with the network, stating that he is “ashamed” of his association with FOX for its propaganda and perpetuation of conspiracy theories, denial of facts, and attacks on the Constitution and our democratic institutions. Amid all this, a record number of Democrats are running for legislative seats in November’s primaries.

Republicans are facing all kinds of legal trouble, much of it directed at the sexual predator in chief. A judge has ruled the Summer Zervos’s defamation lawsuit against Donald may proceed—potentially opening Donald to discovery. In October of 2016, Zervos was one of 11 women accusing Donald of sexual harassment during the shooting of The Apprentice whom Donald called “liars.” Another woman claiming an affair with Donald, a former Playboy playmate, is also suing to end her NDA preventing her from speaking out about an affair with Donald. AndStormy Daniels, whose interview with 60 Minutes aired Sunday night, continues to press her suit to be released from the NDA Donald procured with hush money about their extramarital affair while Melania was recovering from childbirth.

Washington, DC, and Maryland have filed a lawsuit against Donald for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which disallows presidents from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without congressional approval. Because Donald refuses to divest himself of his business interests, he is receiving direct payments from foreign governments through his hotels and other businesses.

House Rep. Devin Nunes is under investigation by the Federal Election Commission for possible campaign finance violations.

The New York business commission is investigating more than a dozen Kushner Co. properties for filing false paperwork regarding rent-controlled buildings in an attempt to illegally begin construction work.

The attorney for one of the women who accused Alabama senatorial candidate (and accused child sexual predator) Roy Moore of sexual impropriety reported that a Moore supporter offered him $10K and political favors to drop the woman as a client and publicly state that he didn’t believe her.

Evidence is mounting that Steve Bannon, while working as Donald’s top campaign adviser, oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s illegal gathering of Facebook data that helped Donald win the election, along with similar Russian efforts. Robert Mueller is already all over that.

Speaking of the Russia investigation, new emails show that despite Donald and co.’s denials of George Papdopoulos’s involvement with Donald’s campaign, campaign officials urged him to open a channel of communication to create a U.S. “partnership with Russia,” and Papdopoulos’s direct contacts included Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn. Let us remember that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

In the never-ending White House revolving door, McMaster is out. Donald’s lead legal counsel John Dowd is out.  John McCain submitted a series of pointed questions to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel about her history of involvement in torture as part of the agency’s interrogation program. McCain, often the only remnant of a moral conscience in the GOP, said, ““We now know that these techniques not only failed to deliver actionable intelligence, but actually produced false and misleading information. Most importantly, the use of torture compromised our values, stained our national honor, and threatened our historical reputation.”

Meanwhile John Bolton—Donald’s freshly minted new national security adviser, was head of a super PAC that paid more than a million dollars to Cambridge Analytica to target voters to further his national security agenda.

Scott Pruitt doesn’t seem to be changing his profligate ways—in the past seven months he’s racked up $68K in premium airfare and hotel stays on the taypayer dime. That figure does not include expenses for the aides and security who travel with him.

Donald congratulated Putin on “winning” the recent Russia election, despite specific warnings in his briefing notes in his favorite all-caps , “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” Someone in the White House leaked the info, and John Kelly is mad, y’all.

Calling BS

The teenagers from Stoneman Douglas High are teaching us a lesson in calling BS.

Politicians—and, frankly, advocacy groups—can get hung up on the wonky details of the gun debate. Rather than haggling over the definition of “assault weapon” or what the framers of the constitution meant by “well regulated,” how about we speak in blunter terms?

For example, ask your reps:

  • What is the acceptable number of shootings per year?
  • What is an appropriate number of school children murdered by guns per year?
  • How many gun-deaths by suicide does our society consider healthy?

As a nation, we’ve made progress on another epidemic by addressing it in similar terms: Auto fatalities. With improved safety standards and education, fatalities per vehicle-miles-traveled have steadily declined.

Traffic fatalities over time

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/traffic-fatalities-historical-trend-us-2016-4

While overall gun violence has declined since the 90s, the suicide rate is edging upward, and our levels of gun violence are off the charts when compared to those of other countries

Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.

Let’s follow the lead of the Stoneman Douglas survivors and call BS on any “argument” that deflects from what’s really going on.

When a politician employs one of these phrases:

“Stop politicizing a tragedy!”

“We have a constitutional right to bear arms!”

“We need to arm teachers!”

You say:

“I’m calling BS. We’ve failed our children. It’s long past time for common sense gun control measures. Get to work.”

When a politician proposes a policy other than gun control, like:

“We need to address mental health!”

“We need better background checks!”

“We need better enforcement of current laws!”

You say:

“I’m calling BS. We can do those things, too. But we mostly need common sense gun control. So get to work.”

We seem to have finally reached a tipping point in the gun debate. But only Congress and state lawmakers can bring about real change. And it’s up to us to apply pressure on them until laws are passed and lives are saved. We can do that, by calling BS.

 

Now is the Time to Combat Gun Violence

Indivisible Austin statement on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

Another day, another massacre in America and what we said after the Las Vegas shooting is still true:

“Thoughts and prayers are never going to stop these murderous acts of domestic terrorism. Senseless gun deaths will keep happening as long as Congress refuses to take action. What we need are common-sense gun control laws, which the public overwhelmingly supports.”

What’s different this time is that it’s an election year, with a groundswell of new activists ready to cast their ballots. Something else feels different: students who are not quite yet old enough to vote are speaking loudly to their representatives and letting them know that they will no longer stand for Congressional inaction in protecting our schools and our children.

We must vote out those who will not act to solve the deadly epidemic of gun violence that is sweeping our nation. Here’s a guide to where our current members of Congress stand on a number of recent issues related to the epidemic of gun violence.

“But Mental Health…!”

The GOP raises the specter of “mental health” every time there’s a mass murder, while simultaneously voting to gut the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and other mental health services. This is not a solution, it’s an excuse to do nothing.

On Feb. 28, 2017, President Trump signed HJ Resolution 40, a bill that made it easier for people with mental illness to obtain guns. Cosponsors of the bill included:

  • Michael McCaul (TX-10)
  • Bill Flores (TX-17)
  • Lamar Smith (TX-21)
  • Roger Williams (TX-25)
  • John Carter (TX-31)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) voted No. Senators Cornyn and Cruz voted for the Senate version. The bill passed largely on party lines.

People with mental illness are unfairly stigmatized in the gun control debate, and in fact some disability-rights organizations backed this bill. However, the GOP lacks any credibility on this issue, using it as a mechanism to deflect from the real solutions that they find politically impossible.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

In December 2017, all our GOP House representatives also voted for “concealed-carry reciprocity”—which is a disingenuous way of saying that the least restrictive, most “gun-friendly” laws would be recognized across state lines. This would cause a race to the bottom on gun safety standards. All the reps listed above are co-sponsors of this legislation as well. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this year.

Bump Stocks

Remember that “bump stock ban” that several of our Representatives and senators appeared to favor after October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas? It never happened.

The Gun Lobby

It’s no surprise that the NRA and other Second Amendment absolutists have given money to all of our GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate. But what is surprising is how cheaply our MoCs were bought. Except for Ted Cruz—who was a presidential candidate—our guys were all bought for less than the cost of a new Toyota.

Member of Congress 2016 gun lobby donations NRA rating
Ted Cruz $360,727 A+
John Cornyn $16,200 A+
Bill Flores $10,700 A
Michael McCaul $10,150 A
John Carter $9,500 A+
Roger Williams $4,750 A
Lamar Smith $9,650 A+
Lloyd Doggett $0 F

We can assume that these lawmakers, many of whom are millionaires, were not simply bought off by NRA donations, but by the backing of the NRA’s endorsement and rating. They believe, deeply, that there should be almost no restrictions on access to AR-15s and other weapons designed to kill other humans in large numbers. Are these the people you want representing you in Congress? Do they reflect your values?

Letter from NRA to Wisconsin Judicial candidat
This is what candidates fear from the NRA

Elections

Texas has the first primary in the nation, with early elections beginning on Tuesday, February 20. Now is the time to look at candidates’ positions on gun control and vote accordingly.

And even more importantly, we need to carry forward to November the hurt and rage we all feel about the massacres at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, in Las Vegas last year, and the inevitable shootings that will occur between now and the general election.

We really, absolutely cannot wait any longer to address the epidemic of gun violence in America.

From Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, the grassroots army of Everytown for Gun Safety:

“The millions of dollars and thousands of hours it takes to organize a march are better spent defeating @NRA darlings in the midterms, which are only 263 days away. 90% of Americans agree with us: it’s the lawmakers persuaded by money, not emotion, that we must defeat.”

Three more ways to combat gun violence in America

  1. Tell Members of Congress that thoughts and prayers are not enough
  2. Donate to Everytown for Gun Safety
  3. Read “Throw Them Out: An Action Plan to Kick out Lawmakers Beholden to the Gun Lobby”

Thank John Cornyn for Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Background Check System and Encourage Ted Cruz to Add His Name

As we enter the holiday season, we’re giving thanks where it is due.

We join Moms Demand Action and other advocacy groups in applauding Senators John Cornyn and Chris Murphy (D-CT) for introducing bipartisan legislation to improve the criminal background check system.

We also call on Ted Cruz to join his fellow Texas senator and add his name to the bill. 90% of Americans support universal background checks for all gun sales; tightening this legislation this should be a no-brainer for all lawmakers.

Almost 10 percent of Sutherland Springs’ population was wounded or murdered by gunfire. We need to break the kabuki-theater cycle of: People get shot, we call for action, they call for thoughts and prayers, we condemn their inaction and thoughts and prayers as useless and demand legislation, they say it’s too soon to politicize it, the NRA does something stupid or nothing at all.

This bill is a small step in the right direction.

As Angela Turner, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action says, “This bill alone will not solve our gun violence epidemic, but it will make common sense improvements to the background check system, help keep guns away from domestic abusers and criminals, and ultimately, save lives. Congress should set politics aside, and pass this into law.”

Script for Senator John Cornyn

Thank you for working across the aisle on commonsense gun legislation. A majority of mass shooters in this country have histories of domestic violence, and we’re glad that Sen. Cornyn is working in a bipartisan way to address gaps in the background check system that allow people with dangerous histories to obtain firearms. We hope this signals a willingness to take additional steps to confront the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

Script for Senator Ted Cruz

Your colleague, John Cornyn, has cosponsored a bipartisan bill to address gaps in the background check system that allow people with dangerous histories to obtain firearms. I encourage Sen. Cruz to join his colleague and add his name to this bill. Almost 10 percent of Sutherland Springs’ population was wounded or murdered by gunfire. If that is not enough to get Senator Cruz’s attention on gun violence, then what is?

Join us on Saturday, Nov. 18 to demand that Ted Cruz give NRA blood money to victims of gun violence

Join the Nov. 18 Statewide Rally to Tell Ted Cruz to Give Blood Money to Gun Victims

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Multiple Indivisible groups will be hosting a rally in support of the victims of gun violence on Saturday November 18 at Senator Ted Cruz’s office in Austin. This is a statewide action, with sister rallies occurring in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Please join us as we tell Ted Cruz that we stand against the NRA and with the victims of gun violence.

Constituents Take Ted Cruz to Task on NRA Ties

Gun Safety Advocates: Donate NRA Contributions to Families Gun Violence Victims

WHO: Indivisible Austin, Wilco Indivisible, Indivisible Houston, Pantsuit Republic Houston, Indivisible Austin, Indivisible TX Lege, TX21 Indivisible, TX20 Indivisible, TX23 Indivisible, TX28 Indivisible, TX35 Indivisible-San Antonio, and Women’s March on Washington-San Antonio and many more

WHAT: Statewide action 

WHEN: Saturday, November 18th, 2017, 10:00 AM

WHERE: Offices of Senator Ted Cruz in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio

WHY: To demand the surrender and donation of NRA contributions and push for comprehensive gun reforms.

Given the recent shootings in Sutherland and Las Vegas, The People are taking mass action across Texas to raise awareness for comprehensive public safety protections from shootings. This Saturday, protests at the offices of Ted Cruz will call on the Senator to donate the $360,000 he has taken from Ammo lobby to the families of the victims of gun violence. The action also calls for closing gun loopholes by demanding universal background checks and universal criminal data sharing.

Stricter gun laws in the name of public safety and protections for the masses are popular with the public. A recent Gallup poll shows that 96% of Americans believe in universal background checks for all gun purchases, while 64% of Americans say they support stricter gun laws. An overwhelming majority believe stricter gun laws would reduce mass shootings in the United States.

It’s time to put an end to business as usual for the Ammo Industrial Complex, which has gotten away with endangering The People while lining the pockets of politicians and turning them into gun lobby surrogates. The NRA’s silence in the wake of the death of concealed carrier Philando Castile and the organization’s violent propaganda against peaceful advocates shows that the NRA is less concerned with protecting the 2nd Amendment than they are undermining the First Amendment and turning blood in the streets into cash in the bank.