Why I am marching for gun control
By Molly Smith,
On Dec. 14, my partner, American Indian activist Suzanne Blue Star Boy, and I were on a train heading home from New York when the horrific news of the Newtown, Conn., massacre arrived on my iPhone. We were shocked and terrified. After a few moments, Suzanne said: “Someone needs to do a march.”
I posted the idea on Facebook, and many responded in agreement. By the next day, Suzanne and I had decided we had to lead a march for gun control. Hundreds began signing on to the effort: Facebook friends, colleagues from Suzanne’s professional circles and mine at Arena Stage (where I am artistic director), neighbors and many others.
We moved fast. We wanted the march to take place as quickly as possible because, as the ancient Greeks tell us, the sorrow of being human is that we forget quickly. And we cannot forget Sandy Hook Elementary School. Three months would be too long to wait. Two months would be too long. We needed to act instead of just talking. We wanted to bring our bodies and our minds and our souls to this work.
There is only a small window of time for change, and we’re in that special moment.
I’ve been asked, “Why you, Molly? You’re a theater person. Why is gun control your issue?” My answer: Gun control is everyone’s issue.
I am not a mother. I am not a teacher. I am not a policy person. I am not a safety expert. But none of that matters. I had to act. The victims at Sandy Hook were everyone’s children. The victims of gun violence in the United States are everyone’s mothers, everyone’s fathers, everyone’s brothers and sisters.
This is an act of citizenship. This is a march that comes directly from the heart of Washington. The D.C. region can take this opportunity to lead the way. This will be the first march for gun control since the attack. We expect there will be more.
We march for common-sense gun legislation: to reinstate the assault-weapons ban, to forbid high-capacity magazines, to enforce a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases, to require background checks and gun-safety training, to outlaw bullets that shatter in the body.
I am from Alaska, and many of my friends hunt. No one needs 100 rounds of ammunition to kill a deer. The right to own a gun is not the right to own any gun. There is a long legal tradition in the United States of regulating dangerous items and activities: We place restrictions on who can drive or perform surgery, how electrical wiring can be installed and where dogs are allowed off their leashes. Why would we not regulate something as dangerous as a gun?
We cannot forget Sandy Hook. Many have already forgotten Aurora and Columbine and Virginia Tech and on and on, believing that each time it was an aberration, that there was some hard-to-fathom reason for it, a way to explain it away.
There is a reason for it, and it’s not a pretty one. We have allowed special interests to move a country of more than 300 million to the idea that a small number can decide what the Second Amendment means. But Sandy Hook has awakened America, and the silent majority will not be quiet again until we have stronger gun-control legislation.
This is a call to action. We invite all residents of the District, all Marylanders, all Virginians and the rest of America: Join with us on Saturday, Jan. 26, for the March on Washington for Gun Control.
We march for each one of the lives that has been lost to this epidemic. We march because we demand change. We march because our hearts are broken. We march because we cherish our First Amendment rights. We march because we will not be bullied into thinking the status quo is acceptable. We march so that others can march later and our numbers will build with each successive march until change happens.