Who are we as Americans?

I know writing a blog post about my feelings to a small audience won’t accomplish anything to curb gun violence. What I could do today though was dig into statistics, distill them, and provide their sources. Whatever we do individually to educate ourselves and inform our actions can potentially have a collective impact.

Firearms became the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers in 2020.

This sad fact represents a major shift in risks for young people in the U.S. For over 60 years, car accidents were the leading cause of death for kids and teens. Car accidents are now number two, while drug overdoses are number three.  —TIME MAGAZINE

45,222 firearm-related deaths in the U.S. in 2020

4,358 in total—were children

“It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity — it’s inhumanity.”

Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate

1994 the assault weapons ban went into effect—there were about 400,00 AR-15 rifles in America then.

In 2004 the federal ban on assault weapons expired.

Today, there are 20 million.

Assault weapons are military-style firearms intended to fire multiple rounds in quick succession – killing people quickly with little effort. They can be used with detachable magazines that can fire more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Assault weapons were primarily designed for use in war and battlefields. But because there’s no federal restriction on the sale of these weapons, civilians have been able to purchase assault weapons to carry out some of our nation’s deadliest mass shootings.  —SANDY HOOK PROMISE

This is a hostage situation…Pew Research shows that 81% of Americans believe in some common-sense gun laws.

Here’s a link to the congressmen and senators who benefit the most by NOT supporting what their constituents want in gun policy.

https://elections.bradyunited.org/take-action/nra-donations-116th-congress-senators

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

GUNS AS LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH: https://www.npr.org/2022/04/22/1094364930/firearms-leading-cause-of-death-in-children

TIME MAGAZINE: https://time.com/6170864/cause-of-death-children-guns/

EDUCATION WEEK/27 SCHOOL SHOOTINGS THIS YEAR ALONE: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01

ASSAULT WEAPONS: —Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, May 26th—Subscribe on Substack for a daily email that puts news from a historical perspective from a historian. https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

SANDY HOOK PROMISE: https://actionfund.sandyhookpromise.org/issues/gun-safety/magazine-capacity-limits/?_ga=2.147810295.1346543022.1653831698-1939731440.1653831698

TEXT OF ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN BILL IN 1994: https://www.congress.gov/bill/103rd-congress/house-bill/4296/text

EXTREME RISK LAWS empower law enforcement and, depending on the jurisdiction, family members, health professionals, and school administrators, among others, to work with courts to temporarily remove firearms from those who pose a danger to themselves or others. Extreme risk laws have the power to prevent suicides, mass shootings, and interpersonal violence.  (Note: only 19 states have these laws on the books.)

EXTREME RISK LAWS: https://everytownresearchorg/rankings/law/extreme-risk-law/

...The Pew polling found that significant majorities of Americans support background checks (81 percent), an assault-weapons ban (63 percent), and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines (64 percent); a majority also opposes concealed carry of weapons without a permit. Majorities of Republicans who don’t own guns shared those opinions, as did Democratic gun owners, by even more lopsided margins. Even most Republicans who do own guns said in the polling that they support background checks and oppose permitless concealed carry (which more red states, including Texas, are authorizing). 

Despite all of this, Republican elected officials, in their near-lockstep opposition to gun control, have bent to groups like the NRA in equating almost any restrictions as a sign of disrespect to the values of red America.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2022/05/senate-state-bias-filibuster-blocking-gun-control-legislation/638425/

John Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions: https://publichealth.jhu.edu/departments/health-policy-and-management/research-and-practice/center-for-gun-violence-solutions

FOLLOW THE MONEY $$$$$$$$$: https://elections.bradyunited.org/take-action/nra-donations-116th-congress-senators

FOLLOW THE MONEY: The majority of Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that are proven to reduce deaths. But in 2019, the NRA spent $3.22 million to benefit the political campaigns of senators who oppose gun safety legislation. In 2020, they spent $2.20 million. These senators refuse to support common-sense gun reform, like expanding Brady Background Checks and banning assault weapons.  https://elections.bradyunited.org/take-action/nra-donations-116th-congress-senators

we the apples…

We’ve had a bumper crop of apples this year. I’ve picked, gleaned, and shared them. Somehow they’ve seemed uniquely personified to me.

Forgive me for getting a little woo woo about my backyard bounty and all caught up in meaning & metaphor.

I couldn’t resist.

crop: the product or yield of something formed together

democracy: an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

selfish: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

authoritarian: of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people

When our individuality is overvalued, we can become selfish and lose something so magnificent about being human, connected, and sharing this planet together.

rot: 1. to undergo decomposition from the action of bacteria or fungi; morally corrupt

experience: the process of doing and seeing things; having things happen to you

empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another

If our democracy is going to survive, we must develop the capacity to see everyone as unique, belonging, AND equal in every single way.

We the People Apples of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Constitution of the United States of America (1787)

understanding myself a little better…

I was raised by two entirely different ways of looking at the world. Mom and Dad’s individual circumstances, experiences, programming, and natures formed their worldviews, just as it did for their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and of course, their offspring too.

MY MOM: We’re all pretty wretched human beings. However, if we follow divine rules, tamp down our true natures to follow those rules, and constantly seek forgiveness, then we just might escape eternal damnation.

MY DAD: We’re basically pretty decent folks, we all make mistakes, if we can own them sometimes, and be open to a little coaching then we just might learn from our mistakes and do a little bit better next time.

A friend’s mom says, “it’s a wonder it goes”…it seemed appropriate here somehow. Thank you Martha & Marita.

Grandparents, siblings, birth order, aunts, uncles, cousins, ancient ancestors, geography, friends, boyfriends, school, church, teachers, books, music, TV shows, movies, pets, sports, coaches, experiences, my husband, my children, my nature and so much more, all played a part in who I am today.

Who we are and why is so mysteriously layered and complex that distilling ourselves (or anyone else for that matter) down with just a few data points seems woefully inadequate…total bullshit actually.

My daughter, Willa Govoni shot these photos on the beach a few weeks ago. She captured moments of pure joy and goofing off. These feel like the real me or how I would like my great-grandchildren to see me one day anyway. Thank you Willa.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.” —Billy Joel

Dad liked those Billy Joel lyrics and I think he also understood my worldview quite well. Monday, August 30th will be three years, try to rest in peace Big Guy.

🍦 🍕 🍔 🍟 ❤️ 🏀 🏈

one year ago today…

The whole world witnessed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. How we choose to respond is up to our own hearts in our own time. I find it challenging work to examine my own biases and prejudices. It’s easier to echo information from “my team” without really looking within.

Pausing even just a minute, allows me to hold far more complexity and gives my rational brain an opportunity to override my emotional brain…of course it doesn’t work all of the time. Summoning the spirit of my Grandpa Lillibridge helps me do this, he was really good at slowing down and listening.

Grandpa was remarkably generous in spirit, deeds, resources, and in his communication style as well. He would listen calmly while I shared my thoughts about boys, books, movies, travel, religion, politics, and the world at large. He died in 1986 when I was twenty, he had a huge impact on me…and still does.

I’ve thought a lot about him during this difficult time in American history. Grandpa wasn’t thrown off by opposing viewpoints and he was almost PATHOLOGICALLY CURIOUS. That was truly a gift to me as a young adult, trying to figure out my place in the world. His presence while we talked made me feel like the only person in the universe.

“You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” —Abe Lincoln

Lowell Louis Lillibridge

Curiosity was Grandpa’s superpower—history, politics, psychology, music, business, religion…his library possessed a little of everything. He often read all night when I worked for him. He would come in around eleven apologizing for our late start and then proceed to tell me all about what he was reading.

I believe he would be so saddened by the state of our nation today, families divided because of politics, unable to agree on basic ideas. It would break his heart. I know he would encourage my curiosity, empathy, compassion, and challenge me to find more common ground.

Grandpa, please help me stay curious, and to speak authentically without shutting down my head and heart to others.

9 days in May…

We were married May 16,1992. I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time in 1996 after the birth of our son. In 2000, during a challenging twin pregnancy, our doctor thought the babies were good sized (my feet and ankles were also swelling quite freakishly). She thought it was time to induce. Jeff and I could pick the date, we chose to keep our anniversary, our daughters were born May 17th.

From Mother’s Day to May 17th, life’s big events are celebrated at our house. This year Mother’s Day was the same day as my late father’s 82nd birthday. I miss you Dad.

In 2000, the Govoni family had a wedding, four new babies and we lost our much-love patriarch, Lou. That was obviously a very big year. When we talk about it now, new details keep being revealed about that time. Perhaps your family has a year like that as well?

Honoring life’s milestones, and supporting those who suffered loss (especially this year when weddings, graduations, and funerals were put on hold) is what connects humanity. The year really showed how much we need each other.

Our world shifted so many ways this year with the pandemic. Many bonds were strengthened, and unfortunately many fayed (or severed) as well.

When significant change beyond our control occurs, we crave certainty. Life is clearly very uncertain. Learning how to adapt, hell, maybe even thrive with uncertainty is perhaps the key to our survival.

After a year of slowing down, and finally inching toward our new normal, I think it’s time to take stock of where we’ve all landed. First, quietly in our own hearts, and then collectively as a nation.

I want to cut away the thorns from my heart that are hindering my empathy, judgment, or choices. A process far slower than I would prefer…but necessary and well worth the effort.