Why Writing a Check May Be the Best Response to the Newtown Tragedy

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Photo: Matt Digirolamo

Feeling heartsick? Frustrated? Hopeless?
 
The tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has pushed many of us to the breaking point. We can't take it any more. Something has to change. We know, intuitively, that the easy availability of assault weapons is part of the epidemic problem of mass shootings in America. But what can we do? "The NRA is so strong," people say. "We'll never prevail against them." So what action do we take? We sign some online petitions, demanding change--but change never happens.
 
As crass as it sounds, cold, hard cash may be at least part of the solution.
 
We spend a lot of energy feeling frustrated that the NRA is so powerful, its lobbying influence so immutable. We blame our elected officials. We blame our corrupt system. It's easy to think that no matter what our efforts, the NRA will block lawmakers from inplementing a simple change like reinstituting the ban on assault weapons. And if our primary, collective strategy is to occasionally sign online petitions, that may be true.

So what will it take for our voices to be heard? In the words of the old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
 
Love 'em or hate 'em, we can't deny that the NRA is one of the most well-funded and organized institutions in America. Its annual income is $205 million, and 4.3 million people belong to the association. Its members are firmly committed; unlike some of us who might make an occasional donation to a gun control organization when we're feeling upset, members of the NRA pay their dues every year to have their voices heard. 

To really get in the fight, we need to be just as committed as the members of the NRA. To successfully lobby Congress, we need to support the influencers who can make our voices heard in Washington--like the Brady Campaign. You may remember Jim Brady, who was President Ronald Reagan's press secretary and was shot during the assassination attempt on the President. Jim suffered a serious head wound that left him partially paralyzed for life, and he and his wife Sarah have been advocating common sense gun control since the mid-80s.

Gun control is not warm and fuzzy. It's not my favorite thing to throw money at and I bet it's not yours, either. We may wish the system was different, but in today's political climate all of our wishing (and signing of online petitions) does not create real change.

So how about it? Are we as committed and resolute about our position as the members of the NRA are about theirs? Can we get organized? Can we put our money where our sentiments lie, and make a real effort to promote change around this epidemic of assault weapon-fueled violence? Can we write the annual check that will ensure that our voices are heard?
 
Can we channel our sorrow and brokenhearted feelings into action, during this holiest of seasons?
 
If you support an organization either for or against gun control with your dollars, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this sensitive issue.
 
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