Interlude: After Mandalay Bay, What Comes Next?

Two homework items for listeners after the mass murder in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017: A script for calling your members of congress about the SHARE Act, which would lift restrictions on gun silencers, or about Dianne Feinstein’s bump stock ban. Members are considering these issues now. Make the call:

“Hi, my name is [your name], I’m a constituent of Senator/Congressperson [Last name] from zip code [your zip], calling with a question about their support for gun rights. can you tell me whether the senator/congressperson [supports the SHARE Act, which would eliminate restrictions on the sale of gun silencers] [supports Senator Feinstein’s proposed regulations on bump stocks, which allow shooters to fire their weapons as if they are automatic rifles]? [ Wait for response ] I would like to strongly encourage the congressperson/senator to [reject the SHARE Act] [support Senator Feinstein’s legislation], and work for strong, common-sense restrictions on guns and silencers.

One more question: I noticed that last year, according to federal filings, the senator/congressperson received [dollar amount] from the gun rights lobby. In the wake of the mass shooting deaths of nearly five dozen people in Las Vegas last night, I’m wondering: How much money would constituents like me need to donate to convince the senator/congressperson to reverse their position on gun rights and fight for gun control instead?”

Also on the episode: a call to organize in your own communities.

Listen to us on SoundCloud above, or subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher. (And if we’re not on your podcasting platform of choice, let us know!) Can’t listen? We’ve posted the episode script below — something we’ll be doing for all of our episodes as part of our commitment to accessibility.

But first, here’s a link to the resources Andrea talks about on this interlude:

TRANSCRIPT

ANDREA GRIMES: Hey y’all, it’s your host, Andrea Grimes. This is a Traitor Radio interlude, following the mass shooting and murder in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay casino.

I saw the Vegas news as soon as I clicked open my phone this morning. And I knew how this was going to play out, before I even shoved the cats and the dog off of me and sat down at my computer. Politicians — people in the best position to do something about the availability of deadly weapons in this country — would mostly offer their thoughts and prayers. The same thoughts and prayers that didn’t save 49 people at an LGBTQ night club in Orlando, and that didn’t save 32 people at Virginia Tech and didn’t save twenty elementary school children and six adults in Sandy Hook, and — I can go on. I can go on and on and on — the Las Vegas shooting is the 271st mass shooting in the United States in the year 2017. You know I can. I knew that the media would call the gunman a “lone wolf” instead of a domestic terrorist, because he was a white man. I also knew that people would say that today is not the day to “politicize” guns — as if the second amendment is not political, as if the constitution is not a political document behind which greedy, cowardly politicians hide instead of doing the first fucking thing about gun control.

And that’s kind of where I hit a wall. Because nothing ever changes when it comes to guns in the United States. We decided, as a country, after Sandy Hook, that kindergarteners being murdered in their own schoolhouse was the price America would pay for the freedom of allowing people to own and freely sell and trade hand-held killing machines.

We have got to un-decide that. Somehow. I don’t know how. But I know two things that need doing: The folks who are already in office need to stay challenged on this stuff. So your first homework is going to be about contacting your officials. The second homework is going to be about contacting your neighbors.

So: First. Go to Open Secrets.org and find the recipients page for politicians who have received donations from the gun rights lobby. I’ll put a link in the show notes, or you can google “gun rights” and “open secrets” and “recipients.” Find your elected officials, and find out how much they received from these groups last year. Then call them, and ask them what I asked my congressman, Michael McCaul of Texas’, office:

[transcript of phone call with McCaul’s office]

STAFFER: Congressman McCaul’s office, this is Dan speaking.

ANDREA: Hi Dan, my name’s Andrea, I am a constituent of Congressman McCaul’s in zip code 78751. I had a question, I wanted to know where the congressman stands on the SHARE Act?

DAN: Um, I’m not sure he has a position on that. I’d be happy to pass on a message if you would like, though.

ANDREA: Yes, sure. I would encourage him to oppose the elimination of restrictions of sales on gun silences. I have another question, also. It looks like according to federal filings, the congressman has received several thousand dollars from the gun rights lobby. How much money would a constituent like me need to raise or donate to reverse the congressman’s position on gun rights?

DAN: Um, I’m not quite sure about that. Because this is a congressional office and not a campaign office, we don’t really deal in those matters. But in terms of legislation I can certainly pass on your message about the SHARE Act.

ANDREA: Okay, thank you.

DAN: Yes ma’am. You have a good afternoon.

ANDREA: You too, bye.

[ end transcript of call]

ANDREA: I got the same response from Ted Cruz’s office — that they couldn’t comment on campaign donations. Smells like bullshit to me, but — might be nice to put the question to these folks anyway, so that they know their constituents are paying attention.

SECOND:

This week — I mean really, in the next seven actual days — meet up with your friends, family or neighbors to brainstorm ideas about how you can fight for gun regulations where you live. Meet up at a bar or restaurant or the park or on your uncle’s fancy-fucking boat, I don’t care, but use the collective power and knowledge of your community to think about what you can do. Yes, there are groups like Everytown and Moms Demand Action, and I really recommend making sure you’re on their mailing lists, but when shit like the Mandalay Bay shooting goes down, there is nothing that compares to knowing which real people, real, live, in the flesh people, you can turn to for comfort and rage.

I’ll post some questions on the show notes to get your group started, but think about starting with these: What are the gun regulations in our community, and how would we change them if we could? Who is in danger from gun violence in our community, and how would we change that if we could? What groups already exist in our community who are working on gun control issues? Who are the local experts on gun violence, and what have they said and written about it? What would community support look like for us when it comes to preventing gun violence?

Sometimes connecting face to face with people is the first, hardest step. I say this on every episode, but it’s more relevant on guns than almost any other issue: We can’t rely on our politicians to do this work for us. We have to start at home. We have to talk to each other and build networks outside the capitol, outside our statehouses, networks in our homes and in our streets, that take on the issues the people in power are too complacent or comfortable to take on. Don’t actually wait on Ted Cruz or Michael McCaul to get back to me with that magic number that will inspire him to care more about people than he does about politics.

Please do that, guys. I feel really hopeless right now, and I’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing – find me on Twitter or Facebook and let us know.

[ traitor radio theme song with piano and violins ]

ANDREA: Thanks for tuning in guys. I specifically want to thank our patrons at Patreon.com/TraitorRadio who’ve pledged $5 or more per month to support the podcast. I’m actually recording this at the bar! Because I needed a drink. So I sound funny, but that’s okay, because I want to thank Jake, Caitlin, Teresa, Aspen, Shannon, Jonathan, Robin, Scott, Merritt and Aria who are making it literally possible for me to be talking to you right now. Head over to Patreon.com/TraitorRadio to support us, and if you can’t, please share the podcast and do what you can. Thanks!

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