“We Deserve Better”: Two Important Messages About Gun Violence (Updated)


Update: I had originally posted these two emails, which included solicitations for funds, without comment. But a very thoughtful and consistent follower questioned the appropriateness of my including such solicitations on my blog. He was right, so I’ve deleted that portion of the information below. (His comment and my response remain in their original form.)

I am retaining the rest of the messages because I feel the sentiments expressed are extremely important. As this is the most overtly partisan material I have included in a blog devoted to finding common ground, I plan to explain my position in a subsequent post quite soon.



Several months ago, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania posted a message for the congregation on their website.

The title of the post was “We Deserve Better,” and it included the following passages:

“I recall seeing a post not long ago that rather accurately describes the life cycle of news, and I paraphrase to the best of my recollection: Tragic event – Thoughts and Prayers – Call to Action by our Elected Leaders – Hang Wringing – Next News Event.”

“Despite continuous calls for sensible gun control and mental health care, our elected leaders in Washington knew that it would fade away in time. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the mid-term elections, I fear that the status quo will remain unchanged, and school shootings will resume. I shouldn’t have to include in my daily morning prayers that God should watch over my wife and daughter, both teachers, and keep them safe. Where are our leaders?”

Yesterday morning, that same Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill was targeted in a hate-fueled act of violence. And once again, our nation is shaken to the core.

Several are dead, many others injured.

Neighborhoods in Pittsburgh are devastated and our Jewish community is heartbroken.

We’d like to say a tragedy like this is unimaginable, but we just cannot.

We have seen them before, and we will see them again.

Sometime, likely soon, we will see more images of police clearing areas around schools, places of worship or places of work, as families rush toward the scene of the crime desperate for information about their loved ones.

But we do not have to.

We can decide that, in the words of Rabbi Myers, “we deserve better.” We can decide that our leaders show up.

Because they know how to solve this problem. And like Senator Chris Murphy says, “I shudder to think about what it says about us as a nation if we fail to even try.”

Every single day, nearly 100 Americans are killed with a gun in our country.

We must not only recognize the realities of hatred in our society but actively work to make it harder for dangerous people fueled by hate-filled intentions to access firearms and commit crimes.

So — once again — our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this shooting, their families, and their friends. But the truth is, for those who have the power to act and to save lives, that’s not enough.

It is long past time for Congress to find the courage to take on the gun lobby — to do it for our families, and to do it for each other.

So far, the current Congress has failed to act. Next week, we must elect a Congress that will.

Thank you for standing with us in this fight.

All our best,

Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly

Giffords PAC works to reduce gun violence and save lives by empowering voters with information and supporting candidates who will fight for safer gun laws.


Chris Murphy for Senate

Yesterday morning that familiar knot in our stomachs returned as we found out online, on television or from friends that a gunman walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue, shouted out anti-semitic remarks, and indiscriminately opened fire on the congregation.

Our thoughts are, of course, with yet another community on an ever-growing list of those impacted by this kind of gun violence. But for my colleagues with the power to do something, our thoughts and our prayers are not nearly enough, and our unwillingness to confront this chaos is complicity.

Because the truth is, the evil that we saw yesterday exists in a lot of places. There are people all over the world who are fueled by racism, anti-semitism and rage against women.

Yet among all countries in the developed world, these mass shootings are a uniquely American problem.

My colleagues know how to fix this. It’s not a mystery. Almost every other country has figured it out, and we know how to as well.

But instead, Congress has made an active decision that the increasing levels of gun violence in our communities are an acceptable price to pay to protect the profits of a handful of gun manufacturers.

What they have done is repeatedly looked at solutions that enjoy the approval of 90 percent of the American people, and then they looked over their other shoulder at the gun lobby and decided to do nothing.

So I want to be very clear about something, and I will not be told that there should be some artificial waiting period before I am allowed to say it:

If you want the gun lobby in charge of gun policy in the United States — if you are ok with this kind of carnage in our communities — then keep on voting for Republicans who have pledged loyalty to the gun industry. I wish it weren’t as black and white as that – but it is.

If you want to do something about violence in America, then you have to vote them out.

Because if we actually want to change the gun laws in this country, we are going to have to change Congress next week.

So today, I want to ask you to support some of the gun violence prevention groups working to accomplish that goal. 

The gun lobby’s vision for America and much of the Republican Party’s vision for America is one where people, trained and untrained, are armed to the teeth in nearly every single public place — in every church, in every school, and in every synagogue.

The president said as much yesterday in his callous remarks immediately after the shooting.

But that idea only works in action movies, and it’s the number one priority of the gun companies who would love to sell guns into every public place in our nation.

Banning assault weapons and doing our best to make it harder for potentially dangerous people to buy guns — that’s what works in real life.

Because if more guns led to fewer gun deaths, America would have the lowest gun violence rates in the world.

So, next week we have a chance — an obligation — to do something at the ballot box.

Because there are no doubt a lot of very important reasons to elect a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, but gun violence is one of them. A big one. Please support some of the groups working on this critical issue.

I’ve long said that when it comes to gun violence in this country, lawmakers cannot remain this out of touch with so many of their constituents for so long.

Next week, let’s make that message clear.

Every best wish,

Chris Murphy

10 thoughts on ““We Deserve Better”: Two Important Messages About Gun Violence (Updated)

  1. Hi Annie,
    I thought with the blog that you posted the blog and readers responded. Seems like that’s not what happened here. You may know how I feel on the gun control issue but posting unsolicited political ads that ask for donations?
    Your blogs are thoughtful, well researched and written and you may give your view in the subject. Today’s seems a little different- you’re ok with this type of format for your blog?
    “Cheers”. Don


    1. You’re absolutely right to call me on this. It was a lapse of judgment on my part. I was so deeply affected by recent events that I felt I had to do something—and I was more caught up by the sentiments expressed than by the solicitation. I shall withhold my posting decisions for more careful consideration going forward. I appreciate your constructive criticism.


    1. Nancy,

      Thank you for your attempted “like,” which is available only to WordPress subscribers who sign in that way. I shall soon have a ratings icon whereby you can grant me as many stars as you choose!




  2. Definitely: we deserve better and our Congressmen and women need to stand up and do their jobs. Will be passing this blog along to my representatives. It needs no introduction. You’ve said it all — and thank you.


  3. The Republicans’ nonstop kowtowing to the NRA, which is essentially a gun-sellers’–not a “gun rights”–lobby, remains a national disgrace. Tragedies like Sandy Hook and the Charleston Church shootings did nothing to change that, and it’s hard to believe that the Pittsburgh Synagogue disaster will lead to major, or even minor, gun-control legislation. Yes, as these emails indicate, we need to vote them out, but even Democrats have shown some reluctance to back major gun-control legislation. This is one issue where it’s hard to think positive.


    1. Gail,

      Though I certainly understand your position, I am hopeful that there will be many fresh faces in Congress who are not beholden to the NRA, and we may see some real action, probably modest, but a start, at last.



  4. Historian Barbara W. Tuchman once wrote a book about the origins of the First World War called The Guns of August (it was one of President John F. Kennedy’s favourite books).

    As long as the NRA continues to hold sway over the American political system, guns will continue to unleash their Hell on America the other 11 months of the year as well.


    1. The veracity of your view is evident every day in America, tragically–roughly 100 lives lost to gun violence. I do feel more hopeful than I have in quite a while, however. Congress has just held its first hearing on the topic in many years, and polls show most Americans support background checks and other sensible steps. Notably, the NRA has been financially weakened, reporting $55 million loss from 2016 to 2017. According to Axios (Nov. 27, 2018), gun-control advocates outspent gun rights groups (Michael Bloomberg had a lot to do with this), and the NRA’s favorability rating is the lowest it’s been in 18 years. It’s conceivable that the incredible story of the NRA’s Russia ties (we know how well Putin would regard an armed citizenry, right?) will further damage this once seemingly invincible blight on our country. Care to tackle the NRA/Russia connection in your fiction, Christopher?


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