To the leaders in Congress who stood up for gun safety this week:
I was devastated by the tragic shooting in Orlando because I know too well the feeling of having a child taken in the blink of an eye and pull of a trigger. On November 23, 2012, my son Jordan was shot and killed in a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida while he and his friends were doing what normal teenagers do—listening to loud music.
As I watched the news unfold in Orlando—49 innocent lives cut short at Pulse nightclub—my anguish quickly turned to anger. How many more innocent people must die before America tackles our gun violence crisis? How can we as a nation mourn one day and move on the next, while families are being torn apart and lives are forever changed?
Just days after the Orlando shooting, we witnessed some of your cowardly colleagues—too beholden to the gun lobby—oppose common sense proposals to reduce the gun violence in this country that takes tens of thousands of lives each year. Something, unfortunately, we have seen happen time and time again.
However, this week we saw something new—we saw true leaders stand up by sitting in.
Thank you Representative John Lewis and the colleagues who joined you for a historic sit-in demanding a vote on legislation that would close loopholes in our law that make it easy for dangerous people—including suspected terrorists—to buy guns in this country. As the daughter of a Civil Rights leader, I have long considered you a hero of mine. You found the power and authenticity to compel your colleagues—and the American people—to move for a cause. Your actions translated directly to the desire of the people in our country to save lives from gun violence.
And while you sat on the floor for more than 24 hours, Americans stood in solidarity with you. I gathered with hundreds of supporters on the Capitol steps, chanting, praying and telling our stories. And while you held the floor in the House, more than 175,000 calls poured into Congress from all over the country telling their representatives to do more to keep us safe.
Everyday, I honor Jordan by fighting to protect others from having to experience the loss of a loved one by gun violence. It is a long fight, but I am buoyed by the heroic leadership of Representative Lewis and his colleagues, the courageousness of Senator Murphy who led a filibuster on the Senate floor and the spirit of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who added their voices to this fight. As Dr. King used to say, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We are seeing the arc bend before our very eyes.
This isn’t over yet. What we saw in Washington in the wake of Orlando was about more than one vote or one bill. It was about the urgency that Americans are feeling around the country. It is high time our government take action and do everything in its power to help reduce gun violence in America and save lives. Thank you to all of our elected leaders who found the strength to speak out against senseless violence. For Jordan, for Orlando, for the 91 Americans shot and killed every day and the hundreds more injured—we are going to keep fighting to disarm hate. And we will win.
Lucy McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis. Jordan was shot and killed at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida on November 23, 2012 during an argument over loud music. Lucy is the Faith and Outreach Leader for Everytown for Gun Safety. Lucy’s father was the former president of the Illinois NAACP for more than 20 years.