Some of you may remember that at one point about three years ago I had to close my Facebook account and start a new one, because I thought it was a really good idea to talk trash to some gun nuts. This group of several thousand people (calling themselves Moms & Dads Against Moms & Dads for Gun Sense) reported my profile as fake. Several dozen more thought it would be fun to go on our business page and leave us 1 star reviews; one even went so far as to say we stole from them. They created a fake Alpine Chimney Sweep page and posted things like, “We like cleaning up people’s shit.” I just found out this last year that they also created an email with my name and emailed at least one of our clients and said all kinds of hateful things.
Through all of this, I heard from a woman in Nebraska who also had a run in with this group and experienced something very similar. Come to find out, ruining people’s lives is what this group really enjoyed doing. They were proficient in screen shots and taking over reviews, making folks that had spoken out against them look really bad. In the thread I had created on their page, they posted a picture of a gun-totting clown and said something to the effect, “Watch your back, Cheetah.”
And the truth is, I was scared. When talking with the woman in Nebraska I found out that this group would go so far as to parade around people’s houses, armed to the hilt – they would claim it was their right. And the scarier things is that their hatred and rage created in me a hatred and rage. I thought (and sometimes still do) about how I could get back at these people – how could I bring them down?! But then, I would remember that they are a well organized group, lurking behind computer screens, and just waiting to pounce on the next person who thinks they can talk some sense into these people. And they have guns. Lots of them.
Up to that point, I had been actively working in my own small personal way to bring about gun reform. I had gone to Senate hearings, written letters, signed petitions, and engaged in many debates with gun owners. But this group did a pretty good job of shutting me up. My dad and my husband were both concerned. My friends would just shake their head…and well, I watched my back.
With more school shootings in the last three years than I can count, I now sit here in awe of the teens who have faced gun fire and have the courage to stand up and say STOP! I am ashamed that I backed down. I am ashamed that I let them bring me down. While I can’t carry the weight of every dead student on my shoulders, I will carry each of them in my heart. I will march for them, teach for them, speak for them, and I will never again be afraid. I would rather die than cower in the face of cowardice – because really, a guy with a gun is just that, a coward. My heart is stronger than any bullet.