Sunday, November 25, 2012


I have been busy, so I haven't written in a while. Busy preparing for tomorrow, Monday, when the Stop Concealed Carry Coalition, which I helped put together, will hold its first press conference. We will announce our intention to make sure that Illinois, which is now the only state that does not allow people to carry concealed weapons, remains free from this danger. We chose Monday for our event, because on Tuesday the Illinois legislature goes back into session. We want our representatives to know that the NRA is not the only voice they should be listening to. They should also be listening to the people in Illinois, a majority of whom don't want concealed guns in our state.

That's the message. That's the plan. As everyone who has ever done this kind of thing knows, the press may or may not show up and even if they do, the newspapers and broadcast stations they work for may or may not run the story. Despite all the effort that we have put in, we may or may not succeed in getting our message out to the public. Something more urgent may get the attention of the reporters, or their editors may just not be interested in what we have to say. A lot of other people and organizations will be vying for their limited time and space.

As always, I am in awe of the people with whom I have been working on this effort. They are so capable, so energetic, so selfless, so dedicated. When something needs to be done, they know what to do and they do it.

As always, I am anxious. I tell myself that regardless of how much press we get, we have succeeded just by putting together a coalition and energizing people on the issue. We have gathered more than 6,600 signatures on a petition which we have delivered to legislators. We know that some legislators have noticed and have been responding. At the minimum, what we have done has accomplished more than if we had done nothing.

I have read books and attended workshops on how to organize and lobby on issues. I have tried to learn from others with whom I have worked. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that I am not really the best person to be doing this kind of thing. I have far too much self-doubt. I don't like to ask people to do things. I don't have enough patience. I am not good at attending to details. I don't put a high value on bureaucracy, even though I recognize its importance. I really like to just get things done.

The other thing I have learned is that I love doing this sort of thing, even though my stomach gets tied up in knots and I get overcome by worry. I love it even though our side often loses, and when we win the victories are usually modest.

Tomorrow I will stand with people who have worked longer and harder than I have on this issue. Some of them have lost family members to guns. Some of them have counseled survivors. I will be among people whose hearts have been torn and whose faith has been tested. It will be a privilege.

When tomorrow's event ends, someone will turn to me and ask, “What do we do next?” I don't really have a plan, just a goal. I want the shooting to stop. I want people to feel that they don't need to be ready to pull out a gun to defend themselves. I want people to live without fear that the person next to them on the street might be carrying a gun. I want people to trust one another. I want people to feel justifiably confident that their government will protect them as best it can and that they do not have to arm themselves. I want hope and faith to replace doubt and despair.

I know that there are many whose vision is the same as mine, and who can be counted on to do what they can. The holiday is over, but I am still giving thanks.

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