This is Not A Drill

If you have any heart, or care about anyone or anything, you need to be an advocate for change. ~Christine Yared (14-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School)

Do you remember tornado drills?

If you’re from the midwest, you probably do.

You probably remember having to stop pasting macaroni or stringing beads so that you could join your classmates and walk single-file into the hallway. You probably remember being told to avoid the windows because a tornado can blow out all of the glass and cut you. You probably remember having to get down on the ground and put your hands over your head, tucking into a fetal position for the required 30 seconds or whatever it was until the siren stopped.

Such are the things we have to do to prepare our children for acts of God that we have no control over.

But those drills still brought home the idea that a tornado could happen. It made that potential threat real to the children who took part.

As a seven-year-old, I had nightmares about tornadoes.

What kind of nightmares are our children having now?

While legislators wax poetic about the importance of the 2nd Amendment, six-year-old children are engaging in “intruder” drills at their schools, where they learn to stay away from windows and to hide under desks so that the person who has “intruded” into their school won’t see them.

They are taught how to best hide from the boogeyman, because the boogeyman might actually come to their school, and find them under their desk.

We have to teach our children how to save their own lives, because their lives are at risk at the very place we drop them off every day with a kiss and a smile.

And the teachers that we entrust to teach the proper curriculum and be patient, inspiring, and knowledgeable role models? Well, they now need to be prepared to defend a primary classroom from an armed attack.

Mothers have been railing and organizing since Sandy Hook in 2012.

And now they’re joined by the students themselves.

This generation is the first that has actually had to undergo active shooter drills. If the students who endured last week’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have anything to say about it, they’re also the last. In the aftermath of the trauma they’ve endured, they’re refusing to mourn silently, and instead are laying the blame where it belongs.

We’ve been stunned at the courage and maturity shown by high school seniors who speak eloquently in front of huge crowds about gun violence and the failures of our legislators. Seventeen-year-olds are interspersing major media outlet interviews with  funerals; they’re negotiating with their parents about how much sleep they have to get while they put finishing touches on press releases.

They’re organizing, they’re inspiring, and they’re activating thousands (tens of thousands?) of other people just like them.

They’ve never done any of these things before. They don’t care. They’re just launching forward and figuring it out as they go.

They’re showing us, yet again (in case we missed the lesson the first time around): it’s not magic.

It’s passion.

So now, you and I have a choice. We can take up the torch they have lit and help them carry it forward, or we can sit back and rest and let them do it for us.

That’s our choice.

That’s your choice.

This is not a drill.

So let’s get to work.


Tuesday: Get Local and Advocate for Bump Stock Legislation

The federal legislation that would ban “bump stocks” – which was championed after the Las Vegas shooting – has stalled. (Legislators slowed their roll once the ATF and Justice Department began a federal regulatory process that would determine whether bump-stock devices fall within the definition of “machinegun” – which would, in effect, ban them. That rule making is ongoing.). It never hurts to call your congresscritters to tell them that you’re still eager to see legislation that specifically calls out bump stocks and other devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic ones.

But in the meantime, states like Massachusetts and cities like Denver and Columbia S.C. have taken the lead in banning these devices.

Today, take a minute to call your state legislators and city leaders to find out what exactly they are doing to ban bump stocks and other similar retrofits. They might just need a push, and they might not recognize that they can take this issue on rather than waiting for the federal or state government.

Also Tuesday: Find a Town Hall Near You

This week is recess, so in theory our legislators will be in their districts checking the temperature of their constituents. (I know, I know.)

There are actually a number of town halls that will be going on across the country, so it’s great time to check the Town Hall Project at See if there are any near you where you can put the screws to your legislators and ensure that the safety of our kids are foremost in their minds. We’ve got lots to talk to them about…

Wednesday: Tell Your Senators: NO Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Concealed Carry Reciprocity is … crazy. In essence, it would mean that the states with the least-restrictive concealed carry would set the laws for the entire nation.

Here’s an excellent description of this “race to the bottom”:

Currently, each state has its own rules about the legal requirements for who can carry concealed firearms and which carry permits, if any, they honor from other states. But under federally-mandated concealed carry reciprocity, states such as Maryland, which has opted to allow law enforcement discretion in issuing concealed carry permits and safety training requirements for permit holders, would be required to honor a permit granted by states such as Utah, which grants permits without discretion or safety tests, even to out-of-state residents. … In addition, the bill would allow residents from the 12 states where there are no requirements whatsoever for legal gun owners to carry concealed firearms to carry concealed guns in the other 38 states that normally require permits.

Here’s the really crazy part: this bill has already passed the House. It’s imperative that we contact our Senators (particularly those with an R behind their name) to urge them to vote against concealed carry reciprocity.

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because like everyone else in America, I’m fed up with the National Rifle Association setting the legislative agenda for our country. I was shocked to learn that Concealed Carry Reciprocity was passed in the House of Representatives, and I’m eager to ensure that Senator ____ opposes that legislation. What is his/her stance on the bill? What is he/she doing to stop it? What is he/she doing to ensure the safety of the people in our state?

Thursday: Call Your Legislators to Ask: What Gives?

It’s a little shocking that our news cycle is so frenetic that we’ve nearly stopped talking about the fact that the Trump administration is failing to enforce sanctions that our Congress imposed.

On Friday, 13 Russians were indicted for meddling in the 2016 election. There is no question that the Russians interfered, and that they are planning to do so again in 2018.

But the Trump administration still refuses to follow Congress’s directive.


I think we should ask that question. Don’t you? And more to the point – what the hell is wrong with Congress that it isn’t doing anything about this?

Script: (Literally, to any legislator that you can contact, whether in person or over the phone.) My name is ____ and I’m a constituent at (zip code). I’m incredibly concerned that the Trump administration is flagrantly disobeying Congress by refusing to implement sanctions intended to punish Russia for its election meddling. The message that the administration is sending to foreign powers – including Russia – is anti-American and encourages future election interference. It suggests that America is weak on security and willing to conspire with foreign nations that wish to do us harm. It’s shocking to me that one branch of government – Congress – would be willing to allow another branch of government – the President – to walk all over it. I look forward to hearing (Senator/Congressman/woman____) speak to this issue – which is a constitutional crisis in the purest sense of the phrase.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.

If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

Lastly, if you’d like to support this work (thanks to those who have done so!), you can become a supporter here.

3 thoughts on “This is Not A Drill

  1. The parents, teachers, students and administrators of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas H.S. have much to be proud about. Those articulate, poised,wellmanored teens attest to the good homes and school they come from. They have shown leadership and we would do well to listen and follow. THIS TIME—This time the tears won’t flow We’ve used them up long,long ago This time we’ve gone way too far We’re letting our very soul to scar This time we must honestly say We’re not waiting another day This time, this time we must act We need not wait to hear another fact This time let the youths have their way We must listen and obey This time there will be a law WE must act before the thaw This time we’re made o feel numb We’re empty, empty as a drum This time we know for real We’re truly lost and will not heal This time to the vacant stares We must not send “thoughts and prayers” This time, this time must be the last We must act now and we must act fast This time as we hear the teens cry We must all listen, act now, or else we die This time to one and all let it be known We’ll knock the NRA off ti’s throne This time the survivors have set a dats We all must heed before its too late This time, this time, we’ll say no more We must put an end to all the gore


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