Capitol Beat Opinion

Why We Have To Keep Talking About Pulse and Gun Control

Linda Pentz
Written by Linda Pentz


Pulse is already weakening.  People are starting to forget.  So it goes with the one-hit-wonder-focused media cycle.

Not for all of us of course. (See the new WiRLD site — — for example.)  We remain outraged, and, at this stage it is hard to know whether it’s directed more at the Orlando mass shootings or at the predictable inaction by our elected officials.

There have already been more shootings, mass and otherwise.  There will continue to be.  After the tweets and the vigils; the Senate filibuster and the House sit-in; after the House debated “counter-terrorism” instead of gun control; after #OrlandoStrong and the editorials; it is easy to be left with a sense of helplessness.

“The time for silence is over,” Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) bellowed during that wonderful June 22 sit-in at the U.S. House of Representatives.  You could hear the exasperation in the cadences of the 76-year old lawmaker’s oratory.  It is the same urgency we’ve heard from him when speaking about LGBT rights, or black rights.  We should be there by now.

But how to get there?  A recent “After Pulse” gathering at Busboys and Poets on K Street in DC was intended to find some answers and identify next steps.  A straight ally seated next to me said she had come to the event specifically to learn what she could do to help.

Speakers ran the gamut from trans activists to gun control advocates to LGBT psychotherapists.  Absent a moderator, the presentations meandered from topic to topic.  There were monologues and even sermons.  Code Pink tagged its upcoming vigil outside the National Rifle Association.  But in the end, even in this room full of people who care passionately about gun control and the LGBT community, it was hard to find answers.

Why is gun control legislation such a high mountain to climb?  Sadly, that’s one question that is all too easy to answer. The NRA has donated $3,781,803 to members of Congress who are currently in office, according to the Washington Post.

Top of the charts is Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) with a whopping $60,550, closely followed by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) with $55,650, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) with $54,100 and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) at $51,650.

“Guns make hate legal,” observed Christian Heyne of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, during the Busboys event.  And lobbying money makes guns legal.  And fear makes guns appealing, as gun sales in Orlando and elsewhere post-Pulse are reflecting.

But it’s a bigger problem than just guns, as British satirist Jonathan Pie (real name Tom Walker and if you’ve never watched him, you’ve missed out) so brilliantly pointed out in a recent post-Orlando diatribical monologue.

“How do you change a mindset that is around the globe that says gay people do not have the right to live in peace?” Pie asked.  “How do you begin to challenge an ideology that says someone’s natural instinct is inherently shameful?  More guns?  I don’t think so.”

And so we have to keep talking about this.  Even if the mainstream media moves on and forgets.  Because there will be more editorials like the one in the June 13 Asbury Park Press that asked:

“How many people must be killed before Congress can agree to ban assault weapons?  How many must die before our legislators decide that universal background checks would be a good idea?”

Check the NRA donations list.   Check it twice.  There’s your answer.