#1561 The Growing Movement Against Gun Violence (Transcript)

Air Date 5/23/2022

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we shall, rather than focusing on the problem which we are all sick of hearing about, take a look at the growing activism around the crisis of gun violence. Clips today are from Hope College, CBS News, MSNBC, ThinkTech Hawaii, WSLS10, and the PBS NewsHour with additional members-only clips from MSNBC and Democracy Now.

Perspectives on Activism Gun Violence - Hope College - Air Date 3-2-23

STUDENTS - STUDENTS DEMAND ACTION: On November 30th, 2021, a mass shooting at Oxford High School, took the lives of four students. Hana St. Juliana, Madison Baldwin, Tate Mir and Justin Schilling. Six students and one teacher were injured, and nearly 1800 students were left traumatized.

We are both survivors of the Oxford High School shooting. The day passed in a blur. I remember rushing out of my house that morning before school, quickly hugging my parents goodbye. I remember sitting in my history class next to Justin, unaware that it would be the last time I would see or joke around with him. I remember the [00:01:00] sound of gunshots echoing through the halls, and my teacher slamming the door shut.

I remember frantically pushing desks towards the door for a barricade as my classmates screamed and cried. I remember texting my mom, I love you, and her begging me for information when I had none to give. I remember praying my brother was alive in the classroom two doors down from me. I remember a stapler being shoved into my hand to use like a weapon as a bullet went through my classroom door.

I remember finally getting out of the school and desperately trying to find my mom or dad as ambulances went past me and helicopters flew overhead. Worst of all, I remember waiting. Waiting for news, waiting for names. Tate, Hana, Madison, Justin, my heart broke every time.

The day went by, as it normally would. Time was ticking by, work was being procrastinated, and I was laughing with my friends. Before fifth hour, my friends and I split up in the hallway. We said, our normal, "see you laters", and "I'll text yous". I sat down in [00:02:00] my class and got situated. The next thing I knew, gunshots rang in the distance. I remember hearing the screaming.

I remember running through the hall. I remember pushing through the glass doors and meeting the cold wind. I remember stopping a few steps out of the door. My brother, I frantically checked my phone. I saw a text from him. He was in a classroom and he was safe. I ran to a family member's house nearby. I felt helpless as the hours ticked by.

I sat glued to the TV. News channels broadcasted people injured. Was it 1, 10, 20? How many people died? 0, 5, 10? No one knew. We waited and waited for the dreaded text and calls to come through. Four children had died, Madison, Tate Hana, and Justin. From that moment on, I knew that my life, my community, and my world would never be the same.

In the weeks following the shooting, we felt lost. We couldn't eat, we couldn't sleep, we couldn't laugh, and yet every day we had to pretend like we were okay.

After 42 nearly sleepless nights, we returned to a school environment with classmates and [00:03:00] teachers. The day was filled with hugs, therapy dogs, and lots of anxiety.

Going to school became physically and emotionally exhausting. Every day we put on a brave face for our little brothers. Every day we had to go to school knowing that four students never would again. Every day we had to stare at the empty desk next to us in history class that Justin sat at. Every day we woke up, went to school, and we were terrified that it would happen again.

The days passed slowly, and I was restless. I wanted to do something. Something that would help me move forward and process what I'd experienced. My government teacher, Ms. Zinsky, urged my best friend and me to use our anger to fight for change. At first, I was confused, how could I do anything? She told us about an organization called March for Our Lives that was organizing a lobby group to convince legislators to pass laws to help prevent mass shootings.

We went to Lansing in February, just 85 days after the Oxford shooting, and lobbied for legislation. That day was one of the [00:04:00] most pivotal moments of my life. It left such an impact on me that I knew that I had to continue advocating for change.

Later that spring, I had the opportunity to lead a new group of lobbyists, and met with even more representatives. Lobbying at the Capitol was not only an awakening for my involvement in activism against gun violence, but for my overall political involvement.

It taught me that the only way that things are going to get done at a legislative level is that if we, as dutiful citizens, ask for it. Asking for change makes it personal. Telling your story makes it personal. We asked for safe gun storage and mental health services in schools. We cried, we yelled, we urged representatives and senators for change.

It was hard and really scary. It reopened wounds that were not healed yet. Some representatives told us no, they wouldn't make a change. Some told us yes, some promised to fight with us, and yet a year later we still await that promise.

My experience after the shooting looked a little bit different. I did [00:05:00] my fair amount of sulking, which was to be expected, and it seemed all I had energy for was going to school.

My friends and I would talk about our stories and attempt to process what we had gone through. I could not bring myself to watch the news, and I couldn't watch any press conferences or court cases. It just felt like all they had to talk about was the gunman, and they blasted his picture. That's just not what I needed to see. It was all too gruesome and it felt even a little insensitive.

In the last few months of my senior year, I had no emotional availability left for anything else. It wasn't until the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that I realized I needed to put my pain to the side and do something. I could not sit back and watch more children be murdered in their schools.

In the year following the shooting, we've been fighting for change while simultaneously trying to heal ourselves. We're reminded every day of the issue of gun violence with headline after headline of a new mass shooting.

Most recently, we are faced with the tragedy that occurred in Michigan State. Many of our friends in classmates even go to Michigan State that went to Oxford with [00:06:00] us.

This is the second school shooting they have been through in the last 14 months. 14 months, two mass shootings. That's not normal. Yet again and again, we are met with thoughts and prayers. This is not enough. We need change.

In May after our graduation we were relieved it was all over. We could go to college and leave behind the tragedy in Oxford.

However, leaving our town and forgetting our past was harder than we could have imagined. Our brothers, our friends, our teammates, were all still there. We still had a duty to fight for those that we left behind, and we still had a duty to fight for all of those affected by gun violence.

Natalie's sister, Lauren Chiller, laid the groundwork for a new student organization at Hope College called Students Demand Action last spring.

SDA's an organization dedicated to preventing gun violence, we knew that this was something we wanted to be a part of. At home, everyone was so focused on the shooting, keeping the school safe, and providing mental health services that the transition to a new school was shocking. No one really understood the trauma we faced [00:07:00] and there weren't the numbers of support that there were in Oxford.

We joined SDA with the hopes of spreading awareness of gun violence to students at Hope College in order to gain traction for movement towards preventative legislation.

Through our suffering, we realize the only way to get through our grief is to help others along the way. We challenge all of you to do the same. We ask that you use your life experiences and your struggles to find your purpose through activism.

We decided to put a few ways that you all can get involved in the fight against gun violence. The first and, in my opinion, the easiest way is definitely to join SDA. You can sign up on for our email list and follow us on Instagram to keep up with all of our events and meetings we're gonna have coming up.

The second thing that you can do is to contact your representatives. On the pamphlet that you guys received, there's more information on how to do that. We need to tell them what we want and what we need. This is no longer a partisan issue. It's not about parties. Make sure your representatives know that their jobs are at [00:08:00] stake because we're voting them in and we can just as easily vote them out if they don't support gun legislation. Tell them that in your email. Tell them your story, why this is important to you.

The last thing is to stay up to date on current events. When we share information about these current events it's important that we remember, no notoriety, meaning that we don't give attention to the perpetrators of these crimes.

So when you're sharing information about it, please consider just sharing information about the lives that were lost in each event.

March For Our Lives' David Hogg on renewed gun control debate following Nashville shooting - CBS News - Air Date 3-29-23

JOHN DICKERSON - HOST, CBS NEWS: The debate over gun laws is following predictable patterns following the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville that took the lives of three children and three staff members. Just over five years ago, the voices supporting gun control got louder when hundreds of thousands of people turned up across the country for the first ever March For Our Lives.

We're joined now by one of those voices, David Hogg. He helped start the gun control advocacy group March For Our Lives after surviving the Marjorie [00:09:00] Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, where 17 people were killed. David, as somebody who has experienced a school shooting, what goes through your head when you hear news stories like the ones Monday out of Nashville?

DAVID HOGG: What goes through my head isn't just thinking about the policies that should be passed and how we could prevent these things in the future. The first thing that goes through my head are the echoes that I still have to this day of hearing my sister's scream, as a 14 year old that had four friends die in our high school that day. The unconscionable wailing that I had to hear from her.

What I think about are the screams of the parents that have to find out after — they find out that their kid isn't just missing, their child is dead. That's what I think about. The enormous pain and suffering that comes with this that, often, the media can only [00:10:00] show so much of but you really never see the full scale of

JOHN DICKERSON - HOST, CBS NEWS: Said it re initiates the trauma for all of you who — the numbers of you who have been through this all across this country in incidents like this?

DAVID HOGG: It does. It does. It's exhausting cuz every single time this happens, it's just another cycle of endless debate, inaction a lot of the time. Then just — Republican leaders like the representative of the district in Nashville say it themselves: they don't think that they're gonna be able to do much to address this, or really anything at all a lot of the time.

That's just shameful. It's awful. We can all disagree, but the idea that we can't do anything to save our kids from gun violence is inherently antithetical the very principles of our nation, the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I don't care if it's a Democrat or Republican. If somebody thinks that we can't do anything to [00:11:00] stop our kids from dying in schools in their communities, they shouldn't be in government.

JOHN DICKERSON - HOST, CBS NEWS: Let me ask you about that. After— you mentioned exhaustion after a shooting like this, there's a mixture of anger and exhaustion.

How — as somebody who's been working so hard on this issue for so many years, how do you read that mix right now? Is it worse than when you first started working? How do you read that mix of anger and exhaustion?

DAVID HOGG: I think the way that I read that mixture —the mixture of anger and exhaustion that I feel after these shootings is to understand that it's obviously valid that we're feeling this way and understandable. That we should not let our exhaustion evolve into fatalism and just acting like this is the way that things have to be.

It doesn't have to be this way. It doesn't. States like Massachusetts have a common sense set of laws in place, that is a stringent process to get a gun, but is [00:12:00] relatively straightforward. If every state had the same gun death rate as Massachusetts, we could cut gun death by 70% in this country.

This isn't theoretical. This is something that we could do right now if we federalized those laws. What I really try to do is hold on to the hope, as hard as that is. Especially in these dark moments, because ultimately we can't stop fighting. Especially when our kids are dying every day from this.

JOHN DICKERSON - HOST, CBS NEWS: What have you learned in the last five years about what's possible, where the points of agreement are, and just how to work towards the goals that you've been pushing for?

DAVID HOGG: I think what I've learned about what's possible is... frankly, a lot of what's possible is up to the American people. When we started speaking out after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, I was 17 years old.

There were people that said, you're just a bunch of kids. You're not gonna change anything because this is Florida. We said watch us, and we went out there and we showed up at the state legislature. [00:13:00] Despite having a Republican trifecta, a state known other than the Sunshine State as the Gunshine State, we passed gun laws in a Republican state legislature, with a Republican governor as they were running for office. Not a single person who voted for those laws lost their reelection because they voted for those laws.

What I've learned over these years is that what is possible, is what we believe is possible. If we believe that we can't address this and that all hope is lost, all hope will be lost. We have to realize that we can address this and we can substantially reduce the number of gun deaths. The last thing I would say, is that there's a different — there's a lot of disagreement on how we address this issue, but there is agreement on the fact that we need to act.

All of us agree on that and what I've learned, is that there's a difference between disagreement and hatred. I can respect people who don't agree with me, but I can't accept that there's nothing that we can do to address this issue. When we [00:14:00] can fund more research at the CDC and NIH to figure out what policies work best. Fund more mental health for the two-thirds of gun deaths that are suicides.

We can make progress on this, but it's gonna come from dialogue and not debate. We understand what we don't agree on. We must focus on what we can and act there, and get involved with our state legislatures and vote too.

Fred Guttenberg on gun control ‘stop listening to the liars’ - MSNBC - Air Date 5-11-23

ANA CABRERA - ANCHOR, MSNBC: Well, we are just hours away from a special caucus meeting among Senate Democrats to discuss gun safety legislation. It's an urgent push for any action and joining those lawmakers in Washington, DC today is Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, died in the Parkland shooting in 2018. He is also co-author of the book, American Carnage: Shattering the Myths that Fuel Gun Violence.

You're such an important person to talk to on this issue. You're about to talk to those lawmakers again. We've been covering here one mass shooting after another, and yet this issue is still just a big political football. You have the former president and leading [00:15:00] candidate for the GOP nomination for 2024 saying how he would handle additional gun safety measures last night. Take a listen to this.

DONALD TRUMP: I would do, uh, numerous things. For instance, schools, we would harden very, very much harden, and I also am a very believer, I believe in teachers. I love teachers. Many of these teachers are soldiers, ex soldiers, ex-policemen. They're people that really understand weapons. And you don't need, 5% of the teachers would be more than you could ever have if you're gonna hire security guards. But in addition to that, have security guards. Uh, you have to harden your entrances. You have to make schools safe.

ANA CABRERA - ANCHOR, MSNBC: What's your response to that?

FRED GUTTENBERG: Well, I ignored him last night and I think America needs to ignore him going forward, but, but here's a response. I've been here since Sunday, meeting with every office, Republican and Democrat in the House and Senate, and I've done a bit of media this week as well, and I've said all week, stop listening to the liars. [00:16:00] Um, stop listening to Donald Trump. He's one of the liars. Everything he said is factually false. And so I'll just say this. My daughter should be turning 20 in July. Twenty years ago, there were 200 million guns in America. Today, 20 years later, there's over 400 million, plus ghost guns. Twenty years ago, AR-15 sales were fewer than 2% of all guns sold. Today they are 25% of all guns sold. That's everything you need to know to understand gun violence. The reason we wrote the book is to talk about how we got here, the lies and the myths that brought us here, and what we need to do going forward.

ANA CABRERA - ANCHOR, MSNBC: I understand you're not listening to Donald Trump and you're urging people not to, but too many in his party are listening to him and they're afraid to break with him.

FRED GUTTENBERG: Yeah. Yeah. Listen, um, so I said I've been here all week and I've been in every office in the House and the Senate. While here, the Democrats actually invited me to come speak to the caucus. The [00:17:00] Republicans have walked by. They are so afraid of a base that, for whatever reason, has replaced facts with alternative facts, and that's who they speak to now. Um, I am tuning all of them out. 80% of America agrees with me. 80% of America wants to do something about gun violence. And any legislator who does not get connected with what the 80% of America wants, you're gonna get voted out. The '24 election is the election to finally settle this, and I have the absolute belief, okay, that Americans are gonna turn out in record numbers.

Listen, Ana, this is a book about gun violence that we wrote. About gun violence. It's not a novel, it's not a mystery, and it's one of the top selling books in the country. And I say that because it just says Americans want to understand how we got here in only 20 years and what we can do about it.

ANA CABRERA - ANCHOR, MSNBC: I think that's the [00:18:00] key, the last part there and yet I think it's so frustrating because we keep banging our head on the walls as we cover these shootings, and it's getting worse, not better. But this week in Texas, days after that horrific shooting in Allen, where eight people died, we did see rare GOP votes in the state House of Representatives in favor of a stricter gun law that would raise the purchase age of AR-style rifles, in that case. How do you see this? Is it a sign that the tides are turning perhaps on the Republican Party's stance on gun control?

FRED GUTTENBERG: Well, it is a sign that there still are people in the Republican party who really do value life and who want to put the ability to stop the next shooting over and above the ability to support a lobby that profits off of the death of people like my daughter. And so I am so thankful to those two Republicans who did actually vote the way they did. We need [00:19:00] more courage and more Republicans like them. I don't think we're gonna find it until, um, the Republicans in '24 take a shellacking, and it becomes clear that it was because of this issue.

Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones talks background checks and action on new gun laws - MSNBC - Air Date 4-12-23

ANDREA MITCHELL - HOST, MSNBC: Joining me now is Tennessee State representative Justin Jones, just reinstated on Monday to the State House. On his way to Memphis to join in solidarity, his colleague Justin Pearson. It appears that he does have the votes to go to the State House. What's your reaction to Governor Lee?

The executive order strengthening background checks for gun purchases, setting a 72 hour period for reporting criminal or mental health information to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. I'm sure it's not what you would want, but is this the first glimmer of change coming from the governor?

JUSTIN JONES: Thank you for having me on. I'm in the car on the way to Memphis, so excuse any signal breakage. I think it's an important step forward, but I think it goes to Frederick Douglass's wisdom, "that power concedes nothing without a demand and [00:20:00] never did and never will." The governor would not be taking this step forward without the actions and demands of these young people showing up at the capitol by the thousands.

I think this is a first step. I talked to his chief of staff this morning and I said: we want continued good faith negotiations to get a ban on these assault weapons, a ban on high capacity magazines, universal background checks. There are many more steps that we need to take to make sure that our students and children are protected in these schools, and our community as a whole.

 My message to the governor is that this is a good step forward, but there's much more work to do. That this is just the beginning and it should not be the end of our negotiations.

ANDREA MITCHELL - HOST, MSNBC: Do you have any confidence that the house leader there will work with you on this? Because you had been eloquent, you and Justin Pearson, about how you were excluded from committees and not taken seriously. Not given them a chance to speak.

JUSTIN JONES: I'm hearing in the house — not just from members of our party, but I've talked to some Republicans who are asking speaker Cameron Sexton to resign. [00:21:00] He does not represent the majority of Tennesseeans or, I believe, of that body. His attacks on democracy are extreme and they're an assault all of our vision of a community that is a multiracial democracy.

Cameron Sexton needs to resign. We have clergy, community members calling on him to resign. There's an investigation going into his misuse of per diem and I don't know if Cameron will be there much longer.

ANDREA MITCHELL - HOST, MSNBC: Have you been placed on any committees? Or is it too soon to tell whether you're gonna be given a meaningful role other than speaking out, and protesting, and speaking for the disenfranchised?

JUSTIN JONES: Speaker Cameron Sexton has not put me on any committees yet. I was able to get my ID turned back on, and was able to go back to my office. We're still asking to be treated as full members of this body, something that he never has treated us as— as young black lawmakers from the beginning when I entered in January.

Like I said, Cameron — he's taken a step too far, and I even hear members of his own party calling for his resignation. That's a step forward, I think, [00:22:00] for our state. To remove him, and to be able to really center democracy in our state is going to be the next step of our movement, and to get passed these common sense gun laws.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (Community Matters) - ThinkTech Hawaii - Air Date 8-18-22

ERIN DAVIS: Yeah, so I mentioned expanding background checks and the assault weapons ban. The third one that I would mention, which is also still pending, is an enhanced background check. And this one closes what's called the Charleston loophole. The Charleston loophole a loophole that exists that basically says if you go to buy a gun and your background check is not completed within three business days. That dealer can choose to sell you the gun even though the background check is not finished. And what that means is that you know, most good dealers, most safety-conscious dealer, will wait until the NICS background checks come back. And once they come back, it'll give you either what's called a "proceed" or a "deny". [00:23:00] And what a "proceed" or a "deny" as they say, a proceed means, legally they've passed the background check and assuming there are no other red flags for the purchaser, you can sell the gun. Whereas a deny means there's something that came back in the background check and you absolutely cannot sell the gun. But oftentimes, it takes NICS and the FBI a bit of time to look at your record. Most of them come back very quickly, but there's a few where there may be something that they need to double check to see whether someone might pass a background check or not.

So what they do is they put you into what's called a delay status, which means they don't have an answer right away, but they're looking for it. Now the way the law is currently written is, if that background check has not been completed in three business days, that dealer, their discretion, can legally sell you the gun under federal law. Certain states have closed this loophole on a state level, but on a federal level, it means you can sell the gun. And that loophole [00:24:00] was how in the Charleston church shooting several years ago, how that shooter got his gun. So, closing that and making sure that you have a concrete, proceed or deny prior to transferring the gun, is really an important law.

And, all of these laws that I've mentioned the assault weapons ban, the enhanced background check, closing the Charleston loophole, and universal background checks, are all things that, you know, gun safety advocates and gun owners all agree on as really low-hanging fruit in terms of, things that really could continue to save more lives.

So, that's one of the reasons why, you know, they're important pieces of legislation and hopefully there will be some movement on them at some point. The bills have been drafted. Sitting there waiting for some sort of vote and hopefully that vote is passing them.

JAY FIDELL - HOST, THINKTECH HAWAII: Why is it so hard to get them through Congress? It seem [00:25:00] obvious that the fewer guns in the country, the less gun violence, especially when you're talking about guns that are manufactured for war scenarios, not self-defense by any stretch. Why is it so hard? Who is opposing? I think I know part of the answer here anyway, who is opposing all these gun control measures?

ERIN DAVIS: The gun lobby is extremely strong and the gun lobby is best served by people buying guns. And that includes citizens buying more guns and it involves law enforcement needing to buy more guns to protect citizens and, it's an industry where the gun industry profits as long as guns are being sold and they have a tremendous lobbying effort and they fund these politicians, which sadly is a disconnect between what their constituents actually want in most [00:26:00] cases and the money they're getting in political fundraising. So, it's a tricky issue. Certainly not a new issue. The gun lobby has been around and quite strong for a long time, and it's gotten more strong and more extreme in recent years, certainly in this market.

I was encouraged, I have to say, by the fact that there was in response recently, both to the Uvalde shooting and the Buffalo shooting, which were both just horrific, that there was a moment that caused everyone to pause and not listen to the political lobbyists and actually get together and pass bipartisan legislation. So, I am hopeful that if they were able to do this, I hope it doesn't take more people dying to get to that moment. But I am hopeful that there will be additional efforts on the federal level and certainly on the state level. We've seen a lot of exciting important bills being passed and being worked on and in the state. And Hawaii is certainly one of those states that's, [00:27:00] leading the charge in terms of passing really important gun safety bills. So, my hope is that even if it takes longer, even if it's a long game on the federal level, that, hopefully some of these states will pass really important legislation in the shorter term.

Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts on recent victories - MSNBC - Air Date 1-15-23

CORI COFFIN - ANCHOR, MSNBC: It's been an encouraging week for gun control advocates in New York. The Supreme Court ruled that the state can continue enforcing a democratic backed law that bans guns from sensitive places like schools, playgrounds, and times square, while appeals work their way through the system. And in Illinois, the governor signed a law banning the sale and possession of military style semi-automatic weapons.

It'll also require legal owners to register their assault rifles. Joining me is the founder of Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Shannon Watts, who's also celebrating a 10 year anniversary of the organization's work. Shannon, welcome in. What do you make of these latest developments? Do you think things are trending in a positive direction in this country?

SHANNON WATTS: Oh, absolutely. The gun safety movement is stronger than it's ever been. We are seeing the political power of our [00:28:00] volunteers, uh, in state houses all across the country. We passed the first federal legislation in over 25 years this last summer. Um, you know, our volunteers in their red shirts are relentless and in Illinois they've spent hours and hours.

Uh, in the State House day after day to get this life-saving gun safety package passed and they were standing by the governor's side as he hided in law. So, look, this work doesn't happen overnight, as you mentioned. We've been doing this for 10 years. Um, but there's a playbook that we're working from, which is to work on this legislatively, electorally and culturally.

And in the state of Illinois, for example, we elected 16 of our own volunteers and survivors, including 10 to the State House. And this is how you make change happen by really working on this issue holistically and at all levels of government.

CORI COFFIN - ANCHOR, MSNBC: Now, let's talk about Illinois specifically, at least 74.

Illinois sheriff's departments are vowing to defy the state's assault weapons ban. What do you make of those who advocate for law and order and public safety refusing to follow the law?

SHANNON WATTS: [00:29:00] I mean, it's, it's absurd. They are putting politics above. Public safety sheriffs are law enforcement, right? They're not judges, they're not lawmakers.

It's reckless for them to not do their job. Um, and, and even Governor Pritzker has said that state police are responsible for law enforcement and that, that in fact, if they don't do their job, they won't have a job. I. The governor has been a huge advocate and a champion of this law. It is supported by people in Illinois, and I really hope that we will see state police and law enforcement follow the law of the land and fill the gap to keep these communities safe.

CORI COFFIN - ANCHOR, MSNBC: Now over in New York, the case there that's kind of gone back and forth. Um, it, it gets very complicated. But within that case, the most recent decisions, justices, Alito and Thomas attached a statement to their decision, which reads, in part, applicants should not be deterred by today's order from, again, seeking relief if the second court does.

Second Circuit Court does not, what do you make of the justices seeming to encourage gun [00:30:00] control opponents to keep the fighting up despite this decision to allow this democratic law to stay in place?

SHANNON WATTS: Well, look, the, the Supreme Court decision in Bruin last summer absolutely opened the door to gun extremism, but it did not.

Close a door to gun safety, gun laws save lives. And when a judge strikes down a gun law, they are putting our lives in danger. You know, most courts continue to uphold these important gun safety laws since the Bruin decision. Um, and so, you know, we will continue our fight to uphold these life-saving laws to make sure we're electing people who nominate judges who will uphold these laws.

Um, it is the goal to keep people who. Free from from gun violence, and that is something that every lawmaker, every elected official, every appointed judge agrees on.

CORI COFFIN - ANCHOR, MSNBC: Let's talk about what's happening in Virginia. The latest on that six-year-old Virginia Boy accused of shooting his first grade teacher. We learned this week that a school administrator was alerted to a possible weapon on the six-year-old, and his bag was checked, but nothing was found.

Now, your organization went to the Virginia State Capitol [00:31:00] on Friday to advocate for stronger gun control laws. You were quoted as saying, we are tired of governor youngin's thoughts and prayers without action. We need to hold lawmakers accountable when they fail to act. What are you calling on the governor to do?

SHANNON WATTS: Well, you know, the governor is a lifelong NRA member who is running scared on this issue because he knows the vast majority of people in Virginia support gun safety. He refuses, uh, to take the nras endorsement. Um, but unfortunately he's not doing anything on this issue, right? He continues to offer thoughts and prayers, empty rhetoric.

Um, let's be clear that this tragedy was a failure across the board. A six-year-old should never. Be able to access a gun and there's some really serious questions that need to be answered right about the school report that we saw that this child may have had a gun, uh, but was failed to be searched. I wanna be clear that most gun owners are responsible.

They store their guns responsibly, but it is on. The onus is on adults always to keep their guns locked, [00:32:00] unloaded, and separate from ammunition. And so that is something that we can do culturally, but also legislatively.

CORI COFFIN - ANCHOR, MSNBC: And finally here with the last few seconds we have Newport News. Police Chief described the incident as unprecedented, but the numbers that were analyzed by Washington posts for K through 12 school shooting show that since 1999, in at least 11 cases, the person who pulled the trigger was no older than 10.

And in fact, in Wichita, Kansas. Police arrested a man and woman for child endangerment after their two year old shattered mother in the foot. What are your final thoughts on this issue?

SHANNON WATTS: America is the only developed country where children get guns and shoot themselves or other people. It is senseless. It is preventable.

It is. Stopped by something called secure storage, right? We can all agree that gun owners should keep their guns locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. This doesn't have to happen, and yet it happens over and over again. There are many states that have taken action and passed laws that protect children and make sure that adults securely store their guns.

Um, we could use this as a, at a [00:33:00] federal level, but in the meantime, moms demand action and students demand action. Volunteers will go state by state and make sure these laws are passed to protect all Americans.

Peace Makers canvassing Lynchburg Neighborhood where teen was shot - WSLS 10 - Air Date 4-16-23

ANCHOR 2: The Peace Makers is a nonprofit planning to go into Lynchburg, where a 15 year old was shot in the chest. And of course, joining us now live is Mr. William Richards and Kenneth Hunter. Good morning. How y'all feeling?

KENNETH HUNTER: Feeling good. Feeling good.

ANCHOR 2: Good, good, good. So talk to us first of all, your reaction to the 15 year old who was shot in the chest. You, sir.

WILLIAM RICHARDS: Well, first, uh, 13 years ago, you know, I was the same young man, you know, with a gun in my hand doing what I felt like I needed to do to survive whatever my circumstances. So the first thing I did was identify, and I felt this pain and I realized it was something that was missing. You know, we, that element of peace, that's something that we are creating. It was missing.

ANCHOR 2: Got it. So you feel like, identified something was not right with that situation.


ANCHOR 2: Gotcha.

WILLIAM RICHARDS: And then at the same time, I identified with the same behavior because I know I used to be that person. I had that rage or I had that [00:34:00] misunderstanding and it took me to wherever it took me.

ANCHOR 2: Gotcha. Mr. Kenneth? Your reaction.

KENNETH HUNTER: I was saddened, um, by something that is happening all too often in our communities. Um, there's a degree of relief that in this particular instance, this young man didn't die, but all too often individuals are passing away. And it's becoming more and more frequent. So I was saddened. Um, I also have children, you know, grandchildren. You know, so you get really worried about the community and the state of the community as it relates to our everyday life and our own safety.

ANCHOR 2: Beautiful.

ANCHOR 1 (LINDSAY): So talk about what your plan is today.

KENNETH HUNTER: Well, today we are going to the 7,000 block of the Timberlake area in Lynchburg where this shooting happened. Um, this is what the Peace Makers have done consistently. We try to be proactive as opposed to reactive. But today we're going to go on the scene and we're going to go down there and march and talk about how we going to keep these neighborhoods safe from here on out.

ANCHOR 2: And how many people plan on coming with you all?

WILLIAM RICHARDS: Whoever shows up.

ANCHOR 2: There we go. There we go.

WILLIAM RICHARDS: This is about the community. I [00:35:00] mean, we have no problem being the vanguard and stepping out because we're gonna do our duty. We gonna canvas, we gonna knock on doors, we gonna give information, we gonna give you this ribbon, we gonna say "U in Unity". With nonviolence. Okay, if that's what you are about, then step out here with us because we are here to keep the community safe and take a village.

ANCHOR 2: And so what other information? You said there's a ribbon and some packets of information. What are y'all givin?

WILLIAM RICHARDS: I mean, if you have youth that we can get into Job Corps. You know, we can get you local jobs. You know, a lot of us have jobs locally and we might be able to tap into something that can set you up for a better future. So we got all sorts of type of information and then the ribbon. The ribbon represents the stand in unity for nonviolence. We ask that everybody put it on their door.

ANCHOR 2: Beautiful. Beautiful. Lindsay?

ANCHOR 1 (LINDSAY): So, I mean, talk about, you know, the goal. I mean, I know that you've said, you know, it's all about just reaching out to youth, making sure that they know they have other options. But what else is your mission? I mean, talk about what it means to you to be a part of that and what you really hope comes out of doing this work.

KENNETH HUNTER: Well, ultimately, like I said, the mission is to be proactive as opposed to [00:36:00] reactive. So we wanna start getting to the core and the source of what is causing these problems. These kids are not savages or animals. They're miseducated, uh, dealing with abject poverty. Uh, also culturally, you know, there's some improvements we need to make. So we're trying to get in the neighborhoods, offer resources to reverse this trend. These kids need to be educated and we want to get out there and hopefully be able to mediate, teach conflict resolution and um, do it at such a rate that we can directly impact these communities the way the Peace Makers have been doing so thus far.

As states grapple with age limits for buying guns, what’s the potential effect - PBS NewsHour - Air date 5-13-23

JOHN YANG - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: It's been an up and down week for both advocates and opponents of laws restricting gun buyers by age. On Monday in Texas where there were two mass murders this month in the space of a week, a House committee unexpectedly passed a bill to raise the age for buying a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. But the legislation is stalled and is now unlikely to get a vote in the full House. And on Wednesday, a judge in Virginia struck down federal laws barring [00:37:00] gun dealers from selling handguns to anyone younger than 21. The Justice Department is likely to appeal that ruling, which does not affect either state laws or private gun sales.

Lisa Geller is the Director of State Affairs, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. Lisa, there are eight states that have age restrictions, fairly tight age restrictions for buying any kind of firearm, any firearm at all. Do we have a sense of what it tells us about whether it helps or not?

LISA GELLER: We do. So as you mentioned, there are several states that have raised the age to 21 to buy certain firearms, some cases all firearms. And what we know stepping back is that the 18 to 20 year old period is an extremely high risk time for teenagers. We know that arrests for murders are highest among this age group. We also know that policies in states to restrict gun purchases to those 18 to 20 have lower rates of gun [00:38:00] suicide. So we do know that protecting those under 21 from buying guns is backed by evidence and keeps youth safe.

JOHN YANG - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: The two recent shootings are last year rather, the Uvalde shooting, and the shooting at the Buffalo supermarket. Both cases, the shooters were teenagers who bought their weapons legally. Do you believe that an age limit would've helped in those cases?

LISA GELLER: I do believe that. I think there are a number of other situations we can point to, notably the Sandy Hook shooter and the Parkland shooter who also bought their guns legally shortly after turning 18.

And we know that if there were a law in place to restrict that purchase until they were 21, they wouldn't have been able to buy guns just at the time period that they did and carry out the mass harm that they did.

JOHN YANG - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: What's the significance, do you think, of the ruling in Virginia? It's striking down the federal law that restricted handgun sales to people 21 and over.

LISA GELLER: Well, as you noted, this is federal law. Federal law states that you have to be 21 years old to buy a handgun from a [00:39:00] licensed dealer. So the Department of Justice has already indicated that they're going to appeal this. I don't wanna be an alarmist here because this is just one district court judge, one federal judge, ruling that this law is unconstitutional. It does not apply yet to residents of Virginia, so I don't wanna state that this is going to go into effect immediately, even if the higher court does agree with the lower court. But we know that this is dangerous. This goes against the will of the people. In fact, even a Fox News poll from just a couple weeks ago found that 81% of people are in favor of raising the age to 21 to buy all guns. And we also know that guns are the leading cause of death for teenagers. So doing this and issuing this kind of dangerous decision at a time when guns are killing teens more than any other means, is extremely dangerous and not consistent with what we see in the data.

JOHN YANG - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: But this ruling also doesn't apply to private gun sales. So someone 18 to 20 could buy a gun from a private dealer in the parking lot [00:40:00] of a licensed dealer, but he couldn't go inside. I mean, is that a problem that you'd like to see closed in the law?

LISA GELLER: There are too many loopholes in our gun laws. Just as you indicated, this does not apply to private sales. At Johns Hopkins at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions, we believe that there should be universal background checks on all gun sales. We believe that the age to buy guns should be raised for all gun sales, because it really doesn't make sense that someone can't go into a federally-licensed firearms dealer at 18 and buy a gun, but, as you indicated, they can have a gun given to them as a gift in some states, or they can buy it through a private transaction. So absolutely this law should be amended and loopholes should be closed to keep people safe.

JOHN YANG - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: You mentioned earlier the link with suicide and obviously, gunshot deaths is I think the leading cause of death among children now. Is there any evidence of a link between states where it's easier to get a gun and higher rates of suicide?

LISA GELLER: The biggest predictor of a suicide is access to a firearm. We know that 90% of suicide [00:41:00] attempts with a firearm are fatal, whereas only 2 to 3% of suicide attempts with non-firearm means are lethal. So if there's anything you take away from this conversation, it's that guns are the reason why suicides are so high in this country. We know that putting time and space between someone and a firearm purchase is the best way to save their life, and that goes for children, but also adults.

And we also know that many mass shooters, particularly these young mass shooters, may be suicidal. And when they are carrying out this mass shooting, they're also at the end taking their own life. So I do believe that mass shooting prevention also has to include suicide prevention.

JOHN YANG - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: You know, after the mass shooting in Texas last week, we heard the governor of Texas come out and when asked about tougher gun laws, talked about more mental health services. They make it sound like it's one or the other. Is that a false dichotomy?

LISA GELLER: We absolutely need more mental healthcare in this country. But there's no way to address gun violence in this country without addressing the [00:42:00] gun. Data shows that only about 4% of violence in this country can be directly linked to mental illness. So even if we were able to prevent every single individual living with mental illness from buying a gun, we would not see meaningful reductions in violence, and even more specifically in gun violence. So I would never say that a shooter is mentally well, but that does not mean that they are mentally ill.

Perspectives on Activism Gun Violence Part 2 - Hope College - Air Date 3-2-23

KC STEVENS - MODERATOR: We have one mic. So I'm gonna ask Pastor Watt and Dr. Sura, both of you, your question, and then I'll pass the mic down so that you can just bounce off of each other. Pastor Watt, I was wondering what suggestions you have -- so flipping the script this time -- what suggestions you have for individuals becoming more involved in community-based local activism or in raising their awareness of the opportunity for addressing this issue locally?

And Dr. Sura, you've incorporated activism into your work as a scholar and as a writer. What have you learned about incorporating activism into vocation that you would like to share with the audience?

PASTOR WILLIE WATT: I'm a strong [00:43:00] believer in working from the bottom up. Strong believer. Because I've watched, I just had the most interesting conversation just about this meeting that I'm in right now. I've gun activists telling me, giving me statistics why people should be having guns and everything. And every time you talk to somebody about guns, I call it the "chicken and the egg" conversation. Do you understand what I'm talking about? "You want to take our guns from us!" And I'm like, no, we just want to keep crazy people from being able to get 'em. But the argument always turned to taking something away from me. No, it's making us safe, so individuals who don't need to have them, they don't get 'em.

When it comes to activism, I say, you have to do it. So here's one scary thing for me right now. I just gave you a number of 327 [00:44:00] individuals homeless in Holland [Michigan]. Those are actually people living on the street and have no income. Out of that number, about 40% of 'em deal with mental illness. Now you're living in a community that don't even wanna recognize that that's a problem.

A lot of people in here -- and I just want a show, raise their hands: how many've ever been without lights in their home for more than a week? Raise 'em up. Raise it up. How many people ever been without food for more than a couple days?

Who's ever slept in the street for more than a week?

Now imagine having to do that with a family.[00:45:00]

Then the question becomes, what would you do to put food in your child's mouth?

What lengths would you go to do something stupid thinking you're gonna provide something good? Now, throw mental illness on top of that.

What is it gonna take for somebody in this town dealing with mental illness to have a gun and think they'll just rob someone, just walking down the street, and it'll just be okay. But we live in a community that don't even wanna recognize that there's even a problem. And there is. I spoke at Hope College, I think maybe seven years ago, and I asked them, when you did your orientation, did they tell you not to [00:46:00] go past 16th Street?

I see some people laughing, but that means some of you heard about that, right? You heard not to travel certain spaces and places in here in this community. And that's true in some cases. It is dangerous here. But we downplay that.

There's three gang houses located in Holland to have sex trafficking going on, but no one does anything, because we want to ignore it. Activism calls for you to do something, move. The smallest things. And for me, it's going after the individuals. It is going after the homeless people that needs our help. Finding spaces for them to be at, places to be at, making sure they got food and money to do laundry and everything so they're not robbing or doing anything else to [00:47:00] anybody else to get it.

That's easy to do. Very easy. Anyone in here can do that.

DR TOM SURA: Thank you Pastor Watt. I will just build on what Pastor Watt has said. Because one of the things that was striking for me when I finally got off my butt and got involved in trying to do something was I would talk to students on campus and they would say, "What can we do? We're just students. Nobody's gonna listen to us. The adults are gonna do something, right?" And then when I was in Charleston and talking to legislators, they would say, "Where're the students? We're doing this for them. It's about them. We're not worried about whining faculty, right? Where are the students?"

And so there was this interesting kind of disconnect [00:48:00] where the students thought they didn't have any power, and the legislatures were like if the students say it, then maybe we'll listen. They didn't wanna listen to us.

And I also learned through this action that when it was starting, when we were just getting going, the conventional wisdom was, look, you can't do anything. It's inevitable. We don't have the votes. It's gonna pass. And so what was striking to me was that we did it anyway. We at least wanted to be on the record that we disagreed. And then we stopped it. Because the bill moved through the house, it went to the Senate, and then because of this constant advocacy and this tireless work, two [00:49:00] Republican senators changed their mind. And suddenly the bill died in committee. And just a few weeks before, that was impossible. It wasn't gonna happen... until it happened.

And then I really got to thinking, 'cause as an English professor -- I'm not a literary scholar now, I'm a rhetorician, I study rhetoric, right? -- and I thought one of the most effective ways to convince somebody not to do anything is to tell them that it's hopeless, right? Like why try if it's hopeless, if you can't win?

And then when we won, I really started thinking, wait a minute, what else is hopeless that we can actually change? And all it [00:50:00] takes is action. Is doing something. Is applying pressure. Not letting it go away, not ignoring it, keep bringing it to the foreground, keep making people look at it. And I think we would all be surprised at what is actually possible when we do that action, instead of being convinced that we don't have any power, that it's somebody else's gotta take care of it.

BONUS: Moms come together to call for gun reform on Mother’s Day - MSNBC - Air Date 5-15-23

ALICIA MENENDEZ - HOST, MSNBC: Tell me why you believe that moms are key to this effort.

EMILY AMICK: You know, if you need something done, you ask a mom. And so that's what we're doing with this campaign, and moms are asking people who love them to stand up, to call their reps about background checks and demand action from Congress.

ALICIA MENENDEZ - HOST, MSNBC: Your campaign is focusing on getting comprehensive background checks legislation passed. Why do you believe [00:51:00] that that piece is key?

EMILY AMICK: You know, for this campaign, we hope it is a start into a longer journey to advocating to your reps. And background checks -- and even Fox News just came out and said 87% of Americans support universal background checks. So we think it's a fabulous way for people who are not used to talking about politics on their social media to get out there and share it with their friends, their family, and their followers.

ALICIA MENENDEZ - HOST, MSNBC: I mean, Emily, I think you will agree as someone who has been close to the legislative process, that there are two barriers here, maybe more, but the two I see are, one, that yes, there are a lot of people who are not familiar with just the verbiage, the script of what it is you say once you get the voicemail for your member of Congress, or what it is you say once you get an intern or an entry-level employee on the phone. There's also, though, the piece, Emily, which is that there are a lot of people who have bought into this idea that this [00:52:00] conversation and this issue is intractable, that there is nothing that they as an individual or that their community can do to advance this issue. And I think part of what you are saying, as someone who, again, has been close to this process is, those calls do matter. Jamming up a fax machine does matter. It can sometimes feel as though our legislators are not listening to us. But they keep tallies of how many of those calls come in and how many voicemails are left, and just how full their email inbox is.

EMILY AMICK: Yeah, that's 100% correct. And I think what I've heard over and over and over again from people is they feel hopeless and helpless.

And so what we are trying to do is to explain to people, no, look at all of us. We're all here together. And you can see it if you go on social media and you can see all these voices, it's visual, it's visceral, and we're trying to say, your voice matters. [00:53:00] And this is still a democracy. If we get together, we can make a difference here, but it's gonna take everyone, it's gonna take tons and tons of little actions, and your call is an amazing first step.

ALICIA MENENDEZ - HOST, MSNBC: Today, of course, Emily, marks a year since the horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York, where a gunman killed 10 people in a supermarket. 10 days after that, 19 children, two adults were killed at a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. These shootings, they prompted Congress to pass the first piece of gun reform legislation we've seen in nearly three decades, and yet, mass shootings continue to be on the rise. What more do you want to see done by Congress, by state legislatures, in order to prevent mass shootings in this country?

EMILY AMICK: Yeah, we need comprehensive gun reform, and it's not just background checks. It's not just an assault weapons ban. It's a comprehensive change in the way we approach guns in this country.

I think that anyone who cares about this issue knows that we need to start [00:54:00] somewhere, because right now the way our politicians are approaching this issue is they're letting a very, very, very loud tiny minority of this country control the issue. And those people say "Nothing. We want unfettered access to as many guns of any type and as much ammunition as we want."

And so the first step is getting everyone together to change the calculus for our politicians so that they know we want action and we want them to keep working until this problem is solved.

BONUS: “Shock & Surprise”Serbia Reels from Two Mass Shootings, Demands Stronger Gun Control - Democracy Now! - Air Date 5-13-23

AMY GOODMAN: Can you first lay out what happened, and then the country’s response, the population? In fact, there’s about to be yet another anti-gun mass mobilization in Belgrade today.

LJILJANA SMAJLOVIC: First time, you know, their sense of security has been taken away completely. So, what they’re thinking now is, “Is my child safe at school?” This other mass murder happened in a sleepy little suburb of Belgrade. They’re wondering, “Can we still [00:55:00] meet up, play with neighbors and walk home afterwards?” So, there is this shock and surprise, and something that’s never happened before.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, after 17 people were killed in the two mass shootings, including eight children, tens of thousands of people joined protests against gun violence in Belgrade, demanding top government officials resign. This is a protester.

SLOBODAN SEKULIC: [translated] It is tragic that so many kids killed by their peers were buried in a short period of time. This is a low point. We are already used to what happens in Texas, but there, weapons are openly purchased. And here, where do they get the firearms? It is a disaster.

AMY GOODMAN: This is the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić speaking last week at a news conference in Belgrade after [00:56:00] both mass shootings.

PRESIDENT ALEKSANDAR VUCIC: [translated] Everyone who has a weapon, and that’s around 400,000 individuals — and I’m not talking about hunting weapons — will have to go through revision. And after, there won’t be more 30,000 to 40,000 of them. We’ll practically conduct a complete disarmament of Serbia. For owning an illegal weapon, penalties will be much more severe, almost double. …

Of course, even that will not be enough for the small number of weapons that will remain. For hunters, who are usually more disciplined, and for everyone else, we will conduct biannual and annual exams of gun owners, including medical, psychiatric and psychological evaluations. If deemed necessary by the authorities, a substance-use test will be conducted within 48 hours.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s see if we have Ljiljana Smajlović back. And if we do, it seems like Serbia is mobilizing against gun violence [00:57:00] much faster than the United States. You’ve had two mass shootings. We have, on average, at least one a day in the United States. Explain what’s happening.

LJILJANA SMAJLOVIC: What’s happening is that we have a political hegemon in power. He has been in power for over 10 years. He has a majority in parliament. He is a hands-on president. He’s also the president of the ruling party. So, when he promises something, when he says he’s going to move on something, he moves on it, and people know that he can deliver.

So, the protests, the mass opposition protests that we’ve had a couple of days ago — and we’re expecting another major protest tonight — these protests are not so much against his measures. People, by and large, approve the measures that the president has announced. People are surrendering their weapons en masse. He just announced today that 9,000 weapons were surrendered, which is more than had happened in four previous campaigns of this [00:58:00] sort, where people were asked to turn in their unregistered weapons, and there will be no consequences if they do.

But the protests are really the protests against this long-serving president who is being accused of being a dictator. And he truly, politically, is omnipotent. So, the opposition sees this crisis of people’s sense of security as a good opportunity to try to dislodge or destabilize the government and exhort some important political concessions. They want several key people in the government, that are known as personal choices of the president, to be fired. They want two of the most popular political stations to lose their broadcasting licenses, at least for national frequencies, and only to remain cable companies. So they have huge demands, and they figure that this is a good [00:59:00] moment to try to win some concessions from a very strong and stable — otherwise stable, government.

AMY GOODMAN: You are, to say the least, a global observer. You’ve seen what’s happened in the United States, and then you see what’s happening in Serbia. How are the mass shootings in the United States perceived from there? And this immediate crackdown on guns, especially illegal guns, on the streets of Serbia, like we haven’t seen in the United States ever?

LJILJANA SMAJLOVIC: We are a society that’s just as deeply polarized politically as the United States. So, we used to look at the United States and say, “Oh, that happens there because they have all those weapons, and they have these, you know, open carry and all this.” But we also felt that we were better and that this kind of thing could not happen here. And immediately, there were political accusations. A government minister, who was [01:00:00] forced to resign, said, “This is what comes from your so-called Western baggage.” Well, the opposition responded, “No, this is what comes from Putinism, from being pro-Russian.” So that was the debate.

But, by and large, people approve of restrictive measures, and they cannot understand that the United States is unable to do anything about their problem. So, people are saying, “OK, this has not been imported from the United States. We are simply part of the big world, and these are things that happen in that outer world. And some things that are happening in the society have a lot to do with what’s happening in other more developed societies.”

Summary 5-23-23

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with Hope College, presenting two personal stories of going from survivor to activist from students demand action. CBS News interviewed David Hogg in the wake of the recent Nashville shooting. MSNBC spoke with Fred Gutenberg about [01:01:00] misinformation around the gun debate and the 2024 election.

MSNBC also spoke with Tennessee representative Justin Jones about the importance of continued action. ThinkTech Hawaii discussed closing loopholes in gun sales laws. MSNBC spoke with Shannon Watts, founder of Mom's Demand Action. WSLS 10 spoke with members of the Peacemakers Group in Virginia.

The PBS NewsHour looked at the fight over age restrictions on buying guns. Hope College featured two more speakers discussing the importance of banishing hopelessness by taking action. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from MSNCB, discussing the effectiveness of lobbying representatives for action on gun reform. Democracy Now discussed the gun control efforts currently going on in Serbia in response to two mass shootings.

To hear that, and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me [01:02:00] an email requesting a financial hardship membership because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

And now we'll hear from you.

Immigrating breaks social ties - Erin from (Just Outside) Philadelphia

VOICEMAILER: ERIN FROM PHILLY: Hi, Jay!, This is Erin from these days just outside Philadelphia. Long time, no call. But I wanted to tie together a couple of threads that came to me listening to both the bonus episode about loneliness and friendship and the immigration episode, and particularly some things I thought about with the David McWilliams program, the Irish podcast that you featured. And a lot of talk in the immigration podcast about people and just immigration in general, where people talk about nobody moves unless they have a damn good reason. People don't want to up and leave their country, for a lot of reasons. And it made me think about my own story. Well, I do keep in the back of my head as a queer person in the US that I may have a damn good reason why I need [01:03:00] to move in the next decade, unfortunately. But ever since I left college, I always assumed I'd up and move abroad after college. It was just kind of a dream of mine. And life got in the way and things happened and so on, and it didn't happen in my twenties and then it didn't happen in my thirties and suddenly I'm looking at 40 and it's still in the back of my mind, but I came to the realization that I didn't actually want to move anymore because it would upend my entire social support network. The conversation in the bonus show where you talked about as you get older you realize there's not an infinite pool of friends. And I was looking at what would I need to do to recreate the social network I have, the actual social network, the actual support system, friends, found family, and so on? If I were to leave the US and leave the area that I grew up in, which I still live pretty [01:04:00] close to where I grew up, and go to the Netherlands or go to Germany or, even just to go to Canada, it would be really hard.

 And I got to the point where I realized, you know what? I don't think I can do that anymore. And so I hope to continue to live in southeastern Pennsylvania for probably the rest of my life. But gosh, yeah, it just, it really hit for me that it is all connected. It takes so much to break those social ties and move to another country. People don't just do that.

And anyway, I could start rambling on about how the same is true of internal migration, when you get bad laws in places like Florida and Texas and you get people on the left saying, well, why don't they just move out of there? Why don't trans people just leave? Why don't black people just leave? And it's the same answer, you know? Yeah, there's a lot of danger and there's a lot of discomfort in these places. But those social ties mean even more.

So, anyway, it's me doing the usual thing of pulling a [01:05:00] couple different threads together.

Thanks as always for the show. Stay awesome.

Final comments on how homophobia impedes male friendships

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record or text us a message at 2 0 2 9 9 9 3 9 9 1 or send an email to Jay best of left dot-com, and thanks to Erin for her thoughts. I think that ignoring those obvious elements of the human condition that make it a very hard choice to decide to immigrate to a new country is one of the primary results of the campaign to dehumanize migrants.

Generally. If you dehumanize them, then you can. Project, any kind of nefarious motivations onto them to fit a political narrative if you understand them as fully human with very much the same needs and wants as the rest of us. Then you couldn't help but draw those same conclusions as Erin just did. Now, for those who missed the bonus show, obviously I encourage you to become a member and hear it for yourself, but in short, we talked about relationships and friendships and those sorts of things that Erin was talking about.

We talked about how [01:06:00] it's easier to see the benefits of moving away than it is to see what you'll be losing out on. And I think this is particularly the case for men and boys who are not particularly socialized to highly value closer. Friendships and I told a story of my own that that maps onto that pretty perfectly.

And you know now clearly there are lots of interlocking reasons for the loneliness epidemic that we're going through, people moving away because we have a highly mobile society where it's relatively easy to pick up and move to a new place. Seems to be a major contributor to it, but, Regarding men and boys.

I got thinking more about the impact of homophobia, and this did come up a little bit in the bonus show. We didn't address it exactly head on, but we talked about the sort of emotional disconnectedness that men tends to have and things, you know, the weird little phenomenon like, uh, two men going to a movie theater together, but leaving a seat between them, right?

Like [01:07:00] homophobia is definitely a major. Undercurrent in, in those sorts of interactions. And as a child of the eighties, I can absolutely attest to growing up with the word gay being. Completely synonymous with bad. That's just what it meant. And besides that, the sheer amount of total energy dedicated to not being perceived as gay was off the charts.

And this wasn't just for people who were. Actively homophobic, you know, hateful or desiring to keep gay people out of the mainstream of society or anything like that. I don't think I ever fell into that category. I don't recall ever having a problem with other people being gay, but that didn't stop me from really, really not wanting to be

Perceived that way myself. So even though there are other factors at play regarding how people find themselves to be lonely these days, it sort of crystallized for me today that growing up in a culture absolutely [01:08:00] infused with homophobia leads, boys. To burn up a ton of emotional and social dynamic energy, figuring out how to keep friends at just the right amount of arms length distance, because it's nice to have friends, but if you get too close, then it might seem a little gay.

And that doesn't have to be a conscious thought that goes through anyone's head. It's just that homophobia has systematically impacted the dynamic of. What we consider to be normal male friendships and relationships in a way that stunts emotional connectedness and therefore keeps those friendship bonds weaker than they might otherwise be, for fear of being perceived as gay.

So it's no wonder then that these weaker friendship ties would make it easier to move away from where you grew up and all of the friends that you knew, thereby putting you at risk of loneliness. And if you do move to a new place, those same dynamics. Are gonna make it [01:09:00] harder to make new connections. Now, I don't have data to back up what I'm saying, but this is making a lot of sense to me as the, as the pieces started falling into place as I was thinking about it today.

So this sort of reminds me of how racism ended up depriving all people of public swimming pools, because segregationist would rather fill in a public pool with cement than allow it to be integrated. Now, this is not quite as stark as that, but in a very real way. I think that bigotry against gay people has helped deprive many, many, many men and boys of the kinds of close friendships that they may have otherwise had, and we are all worth off for it.

As always, keep the comments coming in. You can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message to 2 0 2 9 9 9 3 9 9 1 or email me to j Best of the Left dot-com. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Dion Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in [01:10:00] our bonus episodes.

Thanks to our Transcriptionist, Trio, Ken, Brian and Lodi for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at Best of the Left dot-com slash support through our Patreon page or from right inside the Apple Podcast app membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, just like the one that we.

Mentioned in a fair amount of detail today. In addition to there being extra content, no ads and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player, and you can join the discussion on our Discord community. There's a link to join in the show notes. So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC.

My name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from Best of the [01:11:00] Left dot-com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2023-05-23 20:05:52 -0400
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