Senator Chris Murphy stands up

I wrote a post in the hours after the mass killing at Pulse in Orlando, predicting that the US Congress would do nothing, even in the face of so many deaths at the hands of a single person with an assault weapon.

I am proud to report that I was wrong.

First, some Democratic members of the House walked out on the symbolic moment of silence in protest against inaction.

On Wednesday, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut took the floor at 11:21 AM and began speaking against the lack of debate and action on gun issues from Congress, intending to hold the floor until there was a promise to bring legislation to the Senate for debate and vote.

Senator Murphy lives near Newtown, Connecticut, site of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. He had been a member of the House from an adjoining district and was newly elected as Senator at the time of the shooting. He has been in close contact with the families of the Sandy Hook victims and has long advocated for tighter gun laws and better mental health care.

In order to hold the floor, he was not allowed to leave the chamber or even to sit.  There also needed to be continual talking. To help him, over thirty other Senators, mostly other Democrats but a couple of Republicans also, came to the floor to ask extended questions so that Senator Murphy could rest his voice.

Remarkably, Senator Murphy held the floor for almost fifteen hours, until in the early hours of Thursday, word came that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would schedule votes on four amendments regarding gun purchases next week.

I urge you to watch how Senator Murphy ended his marathon speech. I pray that his words will strike to the hearts of the senators so that they will vote to enact some new protections against gun violence, which is such a plague for us here in the United States.

There is a lot of work to be done. The American people are overwhelmingly in favor of restricting access to military-grade weapons and of ensuring that violent, unstable, or hate-filled people do not get their hands on guns and shoot people.

The President has been advocating on these issues for years.

Congress, listen to Senator Murphy, the President, voters, and especially the families of victims, and act.

Words of love from the Binghamton vigil

I am honored to share the blog post of my friend, Rev. Pat Raube, which includes her remarks at last night’s vigil in Binghamton for the victims of Orlando’s Pulse.

A taste of what Pat said:  “At the same time, for you, for me, for each of us: I offer you what my faith tells me to be true: that Love, a love greater than any of us is capable of on our own, created us, each of us, and made us mysterious, and beautiful and perfect, just as we are.”

Please visit her blog here:  https://swimmerinthefount.blogspot.com/2016/06/binghamton-responds-to-orlando-fl-mass.html to read the rest of the post and see some photos from the vigil.

continuing reaction to Orlando

I wrote on Sunday about my early reactions to the shooting at Pulse in Orlando.

Of course, even now, on Tuesday afternoon, reactions are still early, but I wanted to add a bit more.

One interesting thing locally is that some of our local news broadcasters have incorporated reflections on the ACA shooting here in 2009 into their continuing coverage of the Orlando shooting. This linkage does not often happen, but I expect that it may be this time because there is a sense of connection about a specific group of people being targeted. With the American Civic Association shooting in Binghamton, it was immigrants; with Orlando, it was the LGBTQ community, or, perhaps, the Latino community.

My own emotions continue to swirl.

Yesterday afternoon, Sappho’s Circle, a group of women poets convened by Heather Dorn, met. In response to a prompt, I wrote a poem about the deaths this spring, including those in Orlando. Heather suggested that I submit it to Rattle Poets Respond, which publishes a poem weekly that is newly written in response to current events. I was honored that she felt the poem was worthy enough to be considered and I sent it through Submittable this morning.

Rattle is a very competitive publisher, so chances of acceptance are slim, but, after these recent weeks of not writing or submitting at all, it is gratifying to have been able to process events and feelings into a poem, to have shared it with my friends at Sappho’s Circle, and to have sent it off into the ether.

 

 

more death

People who have been reading my blog this spring know that we have been dealing with a number of deaths. My mother-in-law. A long-time retired pastor. My father’s last sibling. My friend K.

And now, the whole United States is mourning the deaths of dozens of people and sending thoughts and prayers to dozens more who were injured after being shot in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the early morning hours.

It isn’t known if the club was targeted because it serves the gay community or if it was just a random choice by the attacker, who was killed when police broke in about three hours after the shooting started in order to free hostages.

Given that the attack has instilled terror, I will call it terrorism.

Although this will be the worst mass shooting in United States history, in terms of the highest number of victims, I am sad to say that I doubt it will bring about any changes in law or public policy.

An assault rifle was used by the murderer. It’s why he was able to kill and injure so many people so quickly. Still, I don’t think Congress will pass an assault weapons ban. They will just trot out their old platitudes – “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”  – overlooking the fact that a person with an assault rifle can kill and wound many people very quickly.  “More people should be armed to deter or stop attackers.” – ignoring that a trained, armed off-duty police officer was on the scene, providing security for the club, but he could not stop the attack. “Any restriction on guns is unacceptable.” – which is probably believed in Florida because it doesn’t even require licenses or registration to buy firearms.   “We shouldn’t deal with legislation when people are mourning.” – which is the excuse to not deal with it ever.

Orlando joins the long list of mass shootings in the United States. It will probably even join the short list of the shootings that get pulled out for comparison’s sake every time another egregious act occurs.

Living near Binghamton, New York, I have mixed feelings about how mass shootings get listed and compared.  I have written about the ACA shooting here; an article from vocativ calls it “the deadliest mass shooting everyone forgot.” 

Every mass shooting has its own hurts, sorrows, and repercussions which affect people for years.

So does any shooting.

But mass shootings affect not only people who are close to the victims or locality where they occur but also those of us who are far away.

This morning at church with T beside me, I couldn’t help but cry over so much death and injury.

So much to bear…