So the morning finally arrives and you take the subway down to the gathering point and stand around exchanging stories with strangers about what brought each of you to this particular place at this moment in time. And then the time for talking is over and the marching begins. It’s a silent march so there’s nothing to do except stare at the people whose lives you’re inconveniencing, if only briefly. Some of them take your picture. Some of them give you a thumbs up. Some of them smile in a knowing way so you return the smile and keep on walking.
Eventually you reach the destination and listen to people trying to fire you up with words. Then it’s all over and you go to wherever you knew you would be going when it ended. You spend the day doing all the other things you had planned to do. Still later you find your way home and turn on the computer and stare at the screen and ask yourself how to answer the question those who will be curious enough to look may want to ask.
Will it make a difference, Kit, any difference at all?
Thinking about the question, doubts begin to creep in. Assuming anything at all passes (and it’s possible nothing will), you realize the likelihood is that any changes to our gun laws will be minimal at best. And that’s when you realize we’re going to keep having incidents like Newtown again and again because the addiction to guns and gun violence is strong in this country and may never be broken.
But I’m glad I marched today nonetheless.
It was cold, but the weather could have been worse. Crowd estimates varied widely. The Washington Post says 1000. The organizers said 6000. Most news organizations said thousands and I think that’s probably right, more than one thousand but less than six thousand. I think some of those who walked didn’t stick around for the speeches.
There were all kinds of people, younger and older and couples who brought their children along, all of them cute. There were even some college kids, which was nice. Turnout wasn’t the greatest, I suppose, but this thing was put together in one month without any money or any publicity by people with no real experience organizing something like this. I think they did well under the circumstances. But I would also like to see something done that is better planned and managed by those with previous experience.
I enjoyed the walking (from the reflecting pool below the Capitol down to the Washington Monument). The speakers were more of a mixed bag. I thought Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, was the best. He was able to personalize what gun violence means in a way some of the other speakers couldn’t. The singers were good as well. America The Beautiful always touches something in the soul even though you know America would be even more beautiful if those 26 beautiful people in Newtown were still with us today.
The highlight for me was the people who joined us from Newtown. They wore the colors of the Sandy Hook elementary school and I was standing close to one who had a poster with a picture of one of the slain boys. He was so young, so beautiful. What a contrast to the few NRA members and their ilk who showed up with their pictures of Adolph Hitler. Sick people with whom reasoned discussion is impossible. It’s all clichés with them about their second amendment rights. Not a word about the rights of those young boys and girls in Newtown to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I saw one poster that noted Congress had banned dart guns because they had been implicated in the deaths of four people nationwide. By contrast, more than 32,000 people were killed last year alone in gun violence. But Congress does nothing. I guess the lobby for dart guns could use a little of that money the gun manufacturers, those merchants of death we never hear a word about in this debate, contribute to the NRA.
Will it make any difference, Kit, any difference at all?
The one thing I know for sure is people make choices every day. Doing nothing is a choice, but it isn’t a solution and nothing will ever change if that’s the choice people opt for. I chose to walk for the kids who were slaughtered in Newtown because it’s something I can do, along with writing my elected representatives and giving a few bucks to organizations that are trying to make a difference when it comes to gun violence in America.
I’ll sleep just fine tonight.