Dear Sen. Cornyn:
As I was driving through West Texas talking to local folks recently, I heard the news of the mass shooting nearby in Midland and Odessa. My heart dropped as I pulled out my phone to get more information and saw gut-wrenching video of parents huddling in a field covering their children, who were screaming and crying, telling them that it would be all right while semi-automatic gunfire echoed in the background.
I flashed back to my time in Afghanistan as the sounds of war rang in my ears. This isn’t the first time something reminded me so viscerally of my three tours in combat. But something different happened to me when I heard the terrified cries of children layered over the gunfire. Now I was experiencing war not just as a soldier, but as a mother, and this wasn’t a war zone on foreign soil, but in the streets of west Texas.
From Sutherland Springs to Santa Fe to El Paso, the sounds of war have rung out in Texas churches, high schools and stores. Enough is enough. If we’re to be the land of the free, then the brave among us must act to give our people the freedom to go to movies, shop in stores and walk through parks without having to be vigilant for threats.
That starts with getting weapons of war off of our streets and calling on governors and state legislators to ban the open carry of weapons. The reality is this: The reasons gun owners like me have for wanting to protect our Second Amendment rights — chief among them protecting our families — are not served by open carry. In recent days, we have seen companies like Walmart and Kroger take the lead and ask patrons to not openly carry weapons in their stores, but we can’t depend on that. Open carry itself is an assault on every bystander within range, as we feel the need to flee and cover our children without the freedom to call law enforcement for help. We must empower people to “see something, say something.”
We must pass sweeping common-sense gun safety legislation that is dying in U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard, which would require background checks on every single gun sale — a proposal that a recent survey by The Washington Post-ABC News found was supported by 88% of gun owners and would close the loophole that may have allowed the Odessa shooter to acquire his weapon.
We need to stop the sale of assault weapons to the public, pass anti-trafficking regulations and red flag laws, give the Center for Disease Control the money needed to research gun violence prevention and increase straw purchase sentencing.
We know the gun violence epidemic in this country reaches far beyond the tragic mass shootings that we seem to be accepting as commonplace. Domestic violence, accidental shootings, children getting their hands on irresponsibly stored weapons and suicides are robbing us of our mothers, brothers, babies and our soul as a country.
John Cornyn, you have a choice before you. If you want to keep your job as a United States Senator working for the people of Texas, you need to quit working for the NRA and Mitch McConnell. As a mother, a Texan and a responsible gun owner, I sincerely hope you put politics aside and take the needed actions to protect our communities. We are Texas, and we’re in this together.