As I dropped Chase and Ryder off at school today, the morning after the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary school, I lingered and watched them as they ran into their classrooms. It felt like all of the parents and caregivers stood by at drop off this morning for a little longer. Like so many of you, my heart is hurting for so many reasons.
I am a mother to three boys and it’s impossible not to imagine my children in that Robb Elementary classroom. It’s a nightmare and yet it’s reality and it’s horrifying. I keep thinking about the horror the little children and teachers experienced yesterday afternoon. I think about the trauma that will follow those who survived. I cry for the families directly impacted by this tragedy who lost their perfect, precious babies. I ache thinking about the siblings of little ones who lost their life who must now go through life without their best friend.
I am sad and I am also angry. I feel helpless. I hate that nothing seems to be changing in our country despite the fact that the VAST majority of Americans — Americans on either side of the political spectrum — support more responsible gun ownership and national background checks.
I hate feeling like nothing is changing when change is so desperately needed. I think about how I would feel if I were one of the mothers who lost her child yesterday and what I would want from others. I would want prayers — I believe in the power of prayer absolutely — but I would also want action. I would be crying out for change.
If you feel the same way and if you feel helpless, I wanted to share something small I came across this morning that made me feel like I could do something to have my voice heard.
You may find your Senator’s contact information here.
You may find your Congressman or Congresswoman’s information here.
I shared this information on Instagram Stories this morning and heard back from many, many of you who work in politics who echoed the same sentiments: THIS MATTERS. This can make a difference. Calls are recorded, voice mails are noted and emails are tallied. It matters.
I was met with a voicemail every time I called this morning and every call I made took less than one minute. It’s not much — I know that — and there is so, so much more to be done but if you feel frozen and helpless, this is a small step we can take as Americans to try move toward a safer country for our babies, our children and our people.
Thank you for this. I called both of my Senatos.
Thank you for calling. It seems so small in the grand scheme of things but I hope and pray that if enough of us call for change, change will happen.
Thank you for this.
Thank you for saying something and encouraging action.
Thank you so much for saying something, we need more people saying something. Hopefully it will result in change🙏🏻
Just wanted to thank you for saying this. I am a school counselor and my husband is a teacher. Someone brought a loaded gun into my husband’s school this year. A relative of mine ignorantly suggests that we should be armed in schools. If I had wanted to carry a gun to work every day, I would have become a police officer or joined the military. I am a counselor. And the fact that some politicians continue to argue that this is solely a mental health issue, yet they do nothing to help fund mental health care in this country is extremely telling.
Exactly! I am a teacher and have no interest in carrying a gun or being forced to carry a gun. Also, it should not be a job requirement that there is an expectation that I lay down my life for a student. With the amount of school shootings in our country, it HAS become the expectation and that is wrong.
I think your post got a lot of people to do something – thank you! Thank you also for your candor. If you are unaffiliated with a party in NC you can still vote in the Republican primary.
In addition to contacting my elected officials I contacted my local police department to see if they can provide school resource officers at our elementary schools. It looks like some towns do this.
Thank you for saying something and encouraging people to act! I emailed both of my senators just a few minutes ago and plan on contacting my representative this afternoon. This HAS to stop.
Thank you! I called both senators and emailed the congressman. You gave me an act that made me feel like I was doing SOMETHING today, when otherwise I felt so hopeless. I’m passing this on to friends as well.
Thank you for encouraging action, Julie – I just called and emailed my representative.
Thank you thank you for this idea to take action. I made the calls (and actually got real people, not answering services!). Something HAS TO CHANGE.
Unfortunately I live in Tennessee and my two senators are Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty. They couldn’t care less about responsible gun ownership. No one is trying to ban guns, we want legislation that protects us from people being able to buy these assault rifles! Not sure why this is so hard to understand. And if senators don’t want to do that, the least they could do is provide funding for schools to fortify themselves. As a parent and former teacher, I am saddened and disgusted.
Allison D. says
Thank you for encouraging action today. I would add VOTE for representatives at the state and federal level to believe in these measures as well.
Emily L Ashton says
thanks Julie for the reminder. I just emailed all of my senators and congress people after donating to EveryTown against gun violence last night. I really appreciate this and hopefully our voices can effect real policy change.
Thank you. Cried at drop off today and called and emailed my representatives.
Thank you for opening my eyes to something I can actually do.
Thank you for sharing this. I talked to several friends who are teachers and counselors regarding the mental health crisis going on with teens right now (not sure if this applies to this case but I would guess that any 18 year old who could even consider committing such a heinous crime has struggled with mental health) and here were some of the suggestions they had:
Limit screen time (specifically tablets and phones)
No social media until at least 8th grade (love the wait until 8th for a smart phone campaign)
Less screen time for parents- my friend who teaches high school said that so many students say their parents are on the phone even more than they are and are very distracted, so these kids are really desperate for attention
Say no often (lots of entitled kids!)
Allow kids to fail and experience natural consequences, and teach them how to handle it
Not meaning at all to take away from your post and suggestions, but I thought these were very valid points as well and gives us moms of younger kids some actionable takeaways in addition to voting and reaching out to our representatives.
Great suggestions, thanks for sharing!
Yess!! I taught in the public schools for 13 years (middle school and high school) and now teach in a prison. I will be the first to say that first and foremost we have a HUGE family/parenting problem. It all starts in the home and it spreads across all walks of life. There are no socioeconomic boundaries to our issues. We have kids that have virtually no parenting to those who let their children grow up to think they are so incredibly entitled to be commended and rewarded for every move they make. It’s sad to say, but teaching inmates has been easier and more fulfilling then trying to deal with the youth of today and the parents were at times a heck of a lot worse!! Family values have taken a nose dive. Nightly family dinners with engaged conversation, family movie night, weekends spent lazily eating cereal and Sunday family visits have become a thing of the past. Families are in a constant struggle to keep their kids “entertained”, putting them on the best teams (games and practice ALL weekend, even Sundays! ), making sure they are picture perfect for social media. True values such as caring, kindness, modesty, being humble are for many a thing of the past. I thankfully raised two strong, humble, beautiful young men. Both are serving Our Nation. My life wasn’t always picture perfect and it sure took a village of many family members who loved and cared for them, but even as small boys we ALWAYS showed them love, but also DEMANDED respect from them. I might also add, they are avid hunters, for most of their lives have had fairly easy access to weapons of many shapes and sizes, and the only time one of them ever hurt anyone, it was with a fist for bad mouthing their momma….I didn’t find that out until years later. We need to go back to parenting/family 101! My heart aches for those young children, teachers and their families. What has happened to them is unimaginable. I will be praying.
I couldn’t agree with you more. We need to stop making these kids grow up too fast. They have their whole life to be on screens and “connected.” My kids just completed 5th and 3rd grades and they will NOT be getting phones or devices anytime soon. My husband and I only go on our phones around them if we are checking something or texting, and we always tell them what we are doing “texting a friend, checking the weather.” I don’t EVER want them to think that screens come first, and I don’t want to model that behavior. Mental health is such an important topic that we need to address. In our town this week a guy was arrested for wandering the streets with a samurai sword busting windshields…
How do you reconcile the idea that people on both sides of the spectrum support background checks, but the party that your family has been members of for many years – the Republican Party – is the one party that refuses to act on the interest of the majority? It’s great to email your senator but that party is able to do what it does because people will show back up to to donate and to the polls to vote for them despite this.
In the name of full transparency with your readers – here is your active membership record for the RNC. These are publicly available. It is the party you support that blocks all of this.
I registered as a Republican when I was 18 and just never changed my party affiliation. To be completely honest, I feel like I am a political moderate. I have voted both Democrat and Republican and my recent voting is in support of candidates who support common sense gun control.
In NC, you can always change your registration status to unaffiliated. It looks like you can update it through the DMV at https://www.ncsbe.gov/registering/how-register/complete-your-registration-online-through-dmv. If you change to unaffiliated, you can only vote in one primary per election cycle.
Heather, that’s a good point. But also if you select a particular party you can only vote in THAT party’s primary (at least in TN). So if I registered Republican, I couldn’t vote in the Democrat and vice versa. At least if you’re unaffiliated you can make the decision as to which you care about more. Or if it’s a year where there’s only one primary because the other party is the incumbent…. Long winded way of me saying I agree. 😁
Primaries in NC are semi-open, but you’re right, primary laws are dependent on each state. Unaffiliated voters in NC can make the choice to vote in the primary of their choosing or none at all.
No, you had to re-register your affiliation with the party each time you moved. The latest registration date is from 2015, as per the above link. You have re-affirmed your affiliation with that party since you were 18. So while I can appreciate you may feel moderate and have voted a variety of ways – you are an active member of the party of the nra and that vocally opposes common sense gun control.
I understand what you are saying — I struggle with this sentiment because I have not voted in support of this party in years when they’ve been up against a candidate who supports common sense gun control. I feel like when my vote counts, I am voting with those advocating for change. Your comment is making me want to do a deeper dive with regard to my political party affiliation so I appreciate this — it’s something I’ve struggled with because everything seems so incredibly divisive and people want you to be completely back or white with no room for gray area and critical thinking. When I don’t feel like I align with one particular party based on all of their issues it can be challenging.
I don’t affiliate with either party because I too live in the gray area. For me there are issues that are fundamental though that mean I can’t support them, gun control and womens rights in particular.
I think the act of leaving the party because of an issue like this is more powerful than an email or voice mail – losing young voters from the party is a great way to change minds.
Kelsey Decker says
I think it’s worth it to emphasize the fact that the republican politicians at the national level are the few people who are keeping all of us from what we want and need most- keeping our babies safe and alive. I think any affiliation with the Republican Party is tainted by that reality. I don’t really get what local Republican beliefs or issues really trump that. You’re associating yourself with men who just don’t get it and just don’t fucking care. I guess I just don’t get what the trade off is.
Not going to lie. As a Black person, who would also like all children to grow up and grow old, this is the last post I’ll be reading. Staying a Republican after 2016, after Charleston, after the Muslim ban, after calling Mexicans rapist, after 2020, after an insurrection, after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, Jordan Edwards (a child), Sandra Bland, and thousand more, after “Don’t Say Gay”, after a domestic terrorist attack against Black elders shopping for groceries that somehow did not merit any mention on this blog. We pray every day to make it home alive, and you are torn? I wish you only peace and will pray one day you will value Black, Muslim, Latino, Queer lives more than white cishet comfort and complicity. Thank you Denise for letting me know.
As a “registered republican” who votes for politicians on both sides depending on how their actions line up with my beliefs, I’ll say that the reason I stay as a registered republican is because I can have a greater influence on that party by voting in primary elections and helping put forth a candidate that has more moderate views. The state I live in is very conservative, meaning the republican candidate who wins the primary almost always wins in the general election, and it only allows registered party members to vote in primaries. I can have the biggest political influence to oppose far-right sentiments by staying registered republican.
Bailey, I have felt the same way — I also feel that if I am a registered Republican and vote outside of my party when the views inside the Republican Party become (what I view as) extreme, that would hopefully send a big message? Though I admittedly need to research to make sure this is something they even are aware of when a vote is cast. There are clearly a lot of things to consider surrounding this issue.
Considering the last couple of decades of slide to the far-right – you may want to consider how effective this actually is.
It also doesn’t negate that a vote for a local republican is a vote for the nra and opposition to gun control no matter their personal stance – “local” candidates are funded by the massive national RNC and its PACs that are funded by gun lobbies. If you actual care about gun control there is not a republican you will send to state or federal houses or the senate that will make a meaningful difference on gun control. Even the ones that want to have no ability to change this from the inside.
To be fair (and I say this as a lifelong democrat) the political landscape and GOP in particular have changed dramatically since 2015. I don’t think shaming people for past decisions is the way we move forward together, if anything it’ll just continue to divide us. Julie, thank you for speaking out!
It’s not shaming to point out a potential blind spot to someone in a prominent spot to suggest change. Criticism is constructive, suggesting anything other than sunshine and rainbows support for each other is divisive is not helpful. We all need a push sometimes to think and act differently.
Thank you Denise for raising this. I am not American but support many american individuals and small businesses and will be bookmarking this database for future reference.
I’d love for this to be a learning opportunity for Julie (and many, many other ‘Republican’ (or in my Canadian case Conservative) voters) to have hard discussions with those around her/them of what their vote really means. I remember asking a friend why she voted conservative and her response was because my parents do and their parents before them did. As one commenter already pointed out, political parties shift so this reliance on tradition and ignorance to reality of the world around us is terrifying.
I also think of the deep harm the Republican party is doing in Florida in particular (where Julie and Ryan have deep roots) re: climate change denial, the don’t say gay rule(wtf?!), banning books, ignoring covid, etc.
All that to say, privileged able bodied white people like Julie have a huge responsibility to step up and have these hard conversations with friends, family members, at church, and their wider communities. While these conversations are clearly not going to immediately solve the gun violence issue at hand (spoiler alert: gun control would!), I don’t know how many more wake up calls America can take.
And while I don’t live there the ripple effects of white supremacist organizations, crazy “mom unions” or whatever they’re calling themselves in Florida, etc are contagious and it’s terrifying.
Anyway, apologies for the 5 am ramble but thank you again Denise for your advocacy work. Thank you Julie for being open to this conversation but please don’t stop here. Have hard conversations with your friends and family. Be bold and brave with your platform. It’s all scary but pales in comparison to going through what the families in Uvalde are right now.
Donate money or affiliate links to everytown . You are rich. Much richer then other bloggers.
I already have.
Thank you for this! I needed to be able to do something, anything even if it’s small.
Thank you for this post. I am an educator living in Florida. I just called Rubio, Scott, and Castor. I am so, so saddened and frustrated by our country right now. I am so tired of active shooter drills and the companies that are now profiting off of these tragedies. We do not have to live like this.
You have responded very graciously to everyone so far and I just have to say your willingness to engage with even pointed questions/comments speaks volumes about your authentic interest in learning and growing. You are an evolving person just like the rest of us, and we all have the right to think what we want as well as the right to change our mind. I would hope that as life goes on, our opinions become more educated and nuanced as we have more experiences, meet more people and hear their stories, and watch the world change too. I get that people want to know where the people and corporations that they support stand, and that is fine with me. But I hear your heart and believe you are genuinely wrestling with this issue. I hope the comments stay informative and encouraging. Shame isn’t an effective change agent.
Fwiw, I was a registered independent until Trump won in 2016 when I registered as a Democrat. I wanted to disaffiliate with even the remote possibility that I supported the party that put him forth as a candidate. “I am the opposite of THAT,” I hoped my change of party affiliation said. I volunteered for the Democratic party in the next presidential and local election cycle. I do all the things noted in this post—and still wait for policy changes that reflect some semblance of sanity. Thank you for doing something productive (many things actually) and encouraging us not to lose faith entirely.
Agree with all of this Sarah! I remember the post after the election and this comment section was so full of vitriol because of a comment about being excited about the results and hopeful for a more united future. I thought that was really brave of Julie. I’ve been a lifelong democrat myself in a very red state, so I understand you have to be able to have conversations with folks from across the political spectrum to get any kind of broader movement going. As an educator, the idea that we’re banning books (BOOKS!) and not guns is just one small example of the rampant corruption of the GOP at the moment. My MIL voted for Trump in 2016 and then within a year changed her registration to democrat and volunteered for Biden. I think willingness to reevaluate and hold your elected officials accountable is so important. My partner is registered as “other” which is fine by me, so long as he continues to vote for those who push for broad, inclusive education and, as Julie said, common sense gun laws! A lot to unpack here, but I will say I have always appreciated Julie’s willingness to “go there” when it matters and advocate for sanity and unity.
Jack Logan says
Agree with everything written here Sarah. Thank you Julie for remaining authentic and engaged with some uncomfortable topics and I appreciate your candor and honesty.
THANK YOU for this. I always hear to contact your representatives, but honestly feel lost after that. This is so extremely helpful.
As a fellow Republican in NC, I’m sorry that people are shaming you for your political party affiliation. Vote for who you want to vote for, whatever party that is. No party is innocent in not rectifying this mess and to blame everything on republicans only creates further divide.
As I’ve said many times since this happened, I don’t care WHAT changes as long as SOMETHING does. Gun control, armed officers, whatever. Do it all. Just do something.
Critism is NOT shaming. All of the points raised here have been valid and people have been respectful even as they call her out. No one said “you’re a Republican, you’re a terrible person”- THAT is shaming. I also think Julie has responded well to the comments and I appreciate that she didn’t immediately get defensive. No need to feel sorry. It’s good to encourage taking responsibility for one’s actions.
At the federal level, it absolutely is only republicans preventing any change in gun control legislation. The House passed two bills that just need senate approval and Senate republicans are refusing to even let the bills come to the floor to be debated. If you want people in Congress to do something about gun control you cannot vote for your current senators.
Thank you Julie for using your platform this way. I also sent
Emails yesterday and donated.
Thank you for using your platform to share and offer constructive suggestions. I also appreciate your polite responses to the more pointed comments. These are not easy issues. I think the entire country is totally traumatized by the past few years and, especially, these recent shootings. It feels overwhelming and endless. Seeing people offer positive ways to channel that energy is a huge help, to me at least. I contacted both my senators today!
I’m sorry that the comments on this post got so divisive and personal. You handled it very graciously. I hope that we can all work together to make meaningful change re: gun control-on an issue that shouldn’t be political in the first place. You shared some great resources- thank you!
Emily Dewey says
You are amazing, Julie.