In the wake of the latest gun violence in Orlando, Democrats in House of Representatives--led by civil rights icon John Lewis--seemed to be rising up on their collective haunches as they staged a protest to demand gun control legislation. The R's called the protest a "stunt" and "anti-democratic," blocked a vote and turned off the cameras (so that C-SPAN couldn't air its coverage.) The feisty D's started broadcasting via cell phone.
It turned out "NoBillNoBreak" was an empty threat when the R's adjourned in the middle of the night. Lewis tweeted:
We got in trouble. We got in the way. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble. By sitting-in, we were really standing up.
A friend with a long history of civic engagement had "just called John Lewis' DC office to thank him for his acts of bravery and determination." I went in search of media coverage on the content of the Democrats' legislation. I came up only with a June 22 post by Gawker's editor-in-chief Alex Parene, "The Democrats Are Boldly Fighting for a Bad, Stupid Bill. Despite any reservations you may have with colloquial title and the site's click-bait and copyright violaiton habits and its focus on celebrities, I'd encourage you to read the piece.
The no-fly list is a civil rights disaster by every conceivable standard. It is secret, it disproportionately affects Arab-Americans, it is error-prone, there is...no effective recourse for people placed on the list, and it constantly and relentlessly expands. As of 2014, the government had a master watchlist of 680,000 people, forty percent of whom had “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” This is both an absurdly large number of people to arbitrarily target in gun control legislation, and far, far too few to have any meaningful effect on actual gun ownership, let alone gun violence.To Parene's links to the ACLU, I would add its critique of proposed gun legislation here and I've asked the organization, via twitter, for an update on the statistics on the watchlist.
Also, watch Jon Oliver's brilliant video on gun control and the influence of the NRA. (You'll need to watch it on YouTube, if it's disabled here. It's at the head of the episode (S03E06). The segment labelled NRA there is truncated.) As he says, the NRA doesn't have very many members and its opinions are not popular, but they are persistent. "If you want serious changes, you have to show up every f*cking day."
Parene his piece like this:
Since the San Bernardino shootings (or even before), an easy, cynical predication has been that the only form of gun control with a realistic shot of being enacted in the near future would be measures that would ban only Muslims from purchasing guns. As is too often the case, Democrats seem determined to prove cynics right.Lewis tweeted:
This is not over. We have more work to do. Keep the faith and keep your eyes on the the prize.I'd ask Lewis to go after a better prize. Why channel rage about Orlando towards the No-Fly List?
If you want to call, Congressman Lewis's number is: (404) 659-0116. His direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also write his chief of staff, Michael E. Collins: email@example.com.
Call your own members of Congress (you can find their contact info via thepeoplegov.org.
At while you're at it, call Paul Ryan (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-225-3031) and Mitch McConnell (email@example.com, 202-224-2541), too. Ryan's Chief of Staff since last year, is revolving door lobbyist David Hoppe: firstname.lastname@example.org. McConnell's is Brian T. McGuire: email@example.com