One Million Moms for Gun Control: In Illinois, the NRA’s Ambassadors Tried to Silence Us. We Won’t Let Them


I was one of the few non-NRA members to attend a panel on “Guns and Public Safety” in Glenview, Illinois earlier this month. By the time I arrived, the auditorium was already packed to capacity. The Illinois Rifle Association had alerted its members to what they labeled as a “gun-grabber” meeting and they turned out in full force. I was allowed in because I was there to distribute a flyer on behalf of the One Million Moms For Gun Control.

I was there because I am a mother. Like many Americans, the tragedy at Sandy Hook rocked me to my core. I am also a pediatrician who sees too many children enveloped by an inescapable culture of violence. It is in their neighborhoods and in their homes. These experiences rob them of a bright future and take away the one thing that sustains all of us through adversity: hope. So I went to hear the stories of victims’ family members, Bill and Jennifer Jenkins, and learn what has helped them cope.

Shortly after the program began, the crowd began to heckle often making it impossible to hear what was being said. The event, as I understood it, was to present the experiences of two people who lost family members to gun violence, a primer on gun-related injuries and fatalities presented by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and finally, information about a group opposed to a concealed carry law in Illinois.

Although there was time for a question-and-answer period after the formal program, this was not billed as a debate. However, shortly after the first speaker was introduced, the shouting began. Aside from the emotionally powerful stories of the victim’s’ family members, it’s hard for me to remember the specifics of what anyone said because of the yelling and jeering. A group of men standing next to me laughed and joked about the terminology used by Linda Jenkins as she described the cold-blooded murder of her pregnant sister. Horrified by their response, I shushed them. One of the men leaned over and angrily said, inches from my ear, “Don’t shush me! And I saw them let you in after the doors were closed, so you shouldn’t be in here anyway.”

Throughout the hour-long presentation, the crowd didn’t let up. Their tempers seemed to become more volatile as the program went on. It didn’t take me long to figure out that they weren’t there for a debate. They were there to suffocate a discussion about common sense gun control solutions. Even the benign suggestion by Bill Jenkins to restore funding to the Centers for Disease Control for research about firearm injuries was shouted down. I also wanted to learn about efforts to oppose a concealed carry law in Illinois. But the meeting had devolved so much by this point that it was not possible. I left feeling discouraged.

It’s a shame that the NRA/IRA chose to engage in intimidation and boorish behavior instead of listening to the other side. A thriving democracy depends on everyone feeling empowered to participate, not just a vocal few. The behavior by these ambassadors for the NRA has undermined my confidence that the majority of its members are rational, responsible and respectful.

I am hoping that my experience was an anomaly. I am hoping that the rational, responsible, and respectful membership of the NRA stands up and sets an example for its national and regional leadership on how to engage in civilized discourse. A recent Gallup Poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans supported universal background checks and increased government spending on mental health programs for young people. It is clear to me now, that if we are to see any meaningful changes such as these then we need follow the NRA’s lead. We need to organize, speak up and show up in full force.

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  • chicagomomcares

    Thank you for writing this.  We cannot be silenced into a culture that does not protect our freedom and our safety.  The NRA has bullied us for too long and has bought its way through Congress.  Enough is enough.

    • bob stinebeck

      the NRA has not “bullied” any one, the NRA is just full of people that want to protect there way of life of hunting and target shooting and as the saying goes a pencil does not miss-spell words the Person does.

  • nada

    Ahh yes, because the real problem from protecting your freedom and safety is the NRA and its members. I enjoy the terminology in this article, “sensible gun control.” It, like so many articles, suggest that all we need in this country is one more law… Yeah, that’ll do it… we are always a law away from being successful. 

     

    When will the individuals who desire stricter gun control start to really understand the absurd nature of their argument? The argument suggests that laws will impact the decision making of non-law abiding citizens. Look, I understand your desire to promote safety. I get that, we live in a very scary world and I am not ever going to disagree with you on that. The concept, however, of suggesting what we need to do is LIMIT the ability for a law abiding individual to protect themselves is going down the wrong path. Talk about making us all sitting ducks and easy targets.

     

  • arekushieru

    It certainly seems like the NRA has brainwashed you.  I suggest you look up some statistics to show you just how ‘safe’ law-abiding citizens having access to guns has really made them.  In fact, I think you’ll find that most of the deaths are attributable to merely having the guns in the house, in the first place.  WHOOPS.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    And those guns are often used by misogynist men on their unwanted women and unwanted kids.

  • infocus

    watch the videos on youtube.   this was a meeting of hate speech and lies by the hosts.  the people who shiwed up were insulted by the hosts.  

  • colleen

    Perhaps y’all should not have been so enthusiastic in your support of what George Zimmerman calls “self defense”.

  • ljean8080

    was raped,strangled and word on the street,disembowled for her car and flatscreen tv.Maybe she should have had a gun.The guy who did was out on parole.they found out that the guards  in his prison tried to block his parole because they knew he was dangerous.

  • colleen

    dupe

  • give-em-hell-mary

    I don’t oppose gun ownership by people who pass background checks, but attacks by strangers and crazy family members always catch gun owners off guard.  Just ask Nancy Lanza! — oh wait!  No, you can’t ask her because her own crazy son shot her dead with her own stash!  Which adds infinite self-defense irony layers to the abortion-banning gun lovers debate.