The following is a guest blog by Lori Haas.
It was a beautiful spring morning ten years ago when I got the phone call from my daughter, Emily. “Hi Mom, I’ve been shot,” she said.
I immediately dropped what I had been doing and raced towards Blacksburg with my husband, breaking every traffic law as we sped to meet her at the hospital. Sobbing in fear and anger on the long drive, I knew that I was one of the lucky ones as the body count grew and grew. Other parents hadn’t gotten calls from their children — their children had been shot and killed.
We Were The Lucky Ones
Emily was so very lucky. She went on to recover from her injuries and graduate from Virginia Tech. After graduation, she became a teacher, got married, and blessed our family with a beautiful grandchild. I am lucky and grateful that I get to see the woman that Emily has become. So many others did not get a chance to see their children reach their full potential. .
Since April 16, 2007, I’ve been an activist and advocate for commonsense gun reform. I am constantly thinking of those parents whose children have not had the opportunity to grow up to be happy and successful adults like Emily has. I have fought to demand background checks before someone can purchase a gun to ensure that criminals and prohibited persons aren’t able to own a gun. I’ve worked to reinstate the law that limits gun purchases to one per month per person. I’ve fought to keep guns out of schools and out of the hands of domestic abusers. And I’ve learned that this is a long hard fight.
Our Legislators Don’t Listen
I thought after the shooting at Virginia Tech, legislators would grow a backbone, stand up to the NRA, and do something to stop guns from getting into the hands of those who are at risk of committing violence or prohibited by law. I thought if we just told our stories and talked to them about what had happened and what would prevent it from happening again, they would have to do something. When faced with facts, certainly they would ignore the greed of the gun lobby and work to save lives. But sadly, our legislators, aided by the gun lobby and gerrymandered districts, don’t listen to me or others who fight for commonsense measures to keep our communities safe.
Enough Is Enough – Time for a Change
The gun lobby has a strong, powerful, and nonsensical hold on our legislators, with endless supplies of money, lawyers, and professional lobbyists. Moms and dads trying to give voice to their children don’t have those kind of resources, but we still fight and tell stories about those who have been killed, not just by mass shootings, but those killed every day because of easy access to guns. It has been a long and slow process, but the gun violence prevention movement in Virginia has grown strong. Thanks to so many who are lifting their voices, candidates and legislators are finally starting to say enough is enough.
As we observe the tenth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre and remember all those killed or injured by gun violence across the Commonwealth, I encourage you to take a stand too. Talk to candidates and politicians and ask them how many people have to die before we decide to put human beings first and corporate profits second? And when you vote this November, think about who is in the pocket of the gun lobby and who is willing to fight so that not one more family is irreparably broken by a senseless tragedy. The only way we can prevent the next tragedy is to elect politicians who will take a stand.