Over the past 30 hours, I’ve struggled greatly with processing the country’s worst domestic terror attack since September 11, 2001. I’m filled with confusion, sorrow, and anger at the sheer magnitude of the atrocity. I’m also filled with love for my brothers and sisters who died and for the other victims whose harrowing acts of bravery we will come to know in the coming days. I have enormous hope for what comes next.
Last night I had a conversation with a Congressman, and I asked him to be vigilant on gun control. He informed me that he was proud of his “F” grade by the National Rifle Association. After some reflection -- it took me about 2 seconds -- I replied, “I hope they give me an ‘F’ grade someday.”
I grew up in South Dakota, where guns and hunting were a way of life. My dad had been in the Army, and was a police officer and detective. We all hunted. We also took and had to pass hunters’ safety courses. My brother and I understood what guns were for and what they were NOT for. We experienced the utter destruction guns could inflict on families at a very young age when my brother’s best friend, a fourth grader, accidentally shot and killed his younger sister, a second grader. All of these memories are seared in my memory and shape who I am and how I consider gun control policy today.
Let me be crystal clear: guns can and should be regulated by the government. And your right to own a “well regulated” gun should not impede my right to be safe from harm, be it accidental or intentional. Unfortunately, while DC has some of the strongest gun control laws in the country, Congress repeatedly works to weaken our laws and impose a twisted, irrational authority over us. When the Board of Education began to review and update our health education standards, we deliberately made gun violence and safety one of our six pillars of health education for our urban school district. We need to ensure our children our safe and understand the incredible chaos and terror guns can inflict.
Last night I also had the incredible opportunity to present an award at the Cappie’s, a regional high school theater awards show akin to the Academy Awards, which was held at the Kennedy Center. I was among the final presenters, and simply said, “On behalf of the entire City, I wish you all a Happy Pride.” The applause was thunderous and the shouts of joy deafening.
That is why I have love; that is why I have hope.
That is why I sought public office.