Sunday December 23, 2012

On November 6, with reproductive rights emerging as a campaign issue, the crime of rape being parsed and redefined, and the gender gap in paychecks defended as sensible economics, women went to the polls in great numbers to successfully defend themselves -- and all of America in the process. Maybe that is what it will take to prevent the men in high places, in the wake of Newtown, Connecticut, from debating gun law reform into oblivion as has happened after every other senseless American massacre. Maybe the united voices of the mothers, grandmothers and future mothers of America will succeed in turning the tide on gun mayhem and madness.

The slaughter of 20 young school children in Newtown makes this attack resonate in a nation that has grown too thick-skinned about gun deaths, and the strong, mother-child bond is something that is common to cultures everywhere. Obviously, fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, grandfathers and uncles grieved and are grieving these deaths, as are men everywhere, but to see newspaper photos and TV footage of mothers at the graves of their children was beyond heart-wrenching. These women would have done whatever they could to defend their children from the psychotic gunman, if only they could have been there.

There are 309 million people in America and 157 million are women, a fraction more than 50 percent. Forty percent of these women are adult or elderly, a great proportion of them mothers, and they are all eligible to vote. As a bloc demanding gun law reform so no more children are massacred they would form a pressure group far larger than the bullies of the National Rifle Association, who have had congressmen of both political parties quaking in fear before them for far too long. And unlike the NRA with its blind allegiance to weaponry, the moms would have a cause that is morally superior and undeniably righteous.

Moms tend to be persistent, and that quality is needed now. The strategy of the gun lobby is to stall and obfuscate after every mass killing until a nation with attention deficit issues moves on to something else. Meanwhile, the nation’s leaders in Washington tie themselves in legislative knots and find reasons not to enact reform rather than to enact it. Mothers and their sisters, having demonstrated their power at the ballot box, should refuse to let the children of Newtown and the heroic teachers, aides and faculty members, the latter all women, drift into the history books, while the opportunity for significant gun reform drifts away with them.

Guys could follow their lead, as well as women elsewhere around the globe. Imagine if the mothers of the Middle East decided they would no longer allow their children to be pawns and victims while the interchangeable and intractable men who come and go continue to squander opportunities for peace even when the parameters of that peace stare them in their faces. Peace just might get its chance.

To start applying the heat, contact congressmen directly and demand results. Representative Richard Neal of the newly drawn 1st Congressional District can be reached at his local office (300 State St., Suite 200, Springfield, Ma. 01105, 413-785-0325); in Washington (2208 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C., 20515, 202-225-5601); or at his website, http://neal.house.gov Our U.S. Senate delegation will change a couple of times in the new year, but for now Senator John Kerry can be reached at his local office (Springfield Federal Bldg., 1550 Main St., Suite 304, Springfield, Ma. 01103, 413-785-4610); in Washington (218 Russell Bldg., Second Floor, Washington, D.C. 20510, 202-224-2742); or at his website, http:// kerry.senate.gov. Senator Scott Brown can be contacted at his Boston office (2400 JFK Federal Building, Boston, Ma. 02203, 617-565-3170); in Washington (317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510, 202-224-4543); or through his website, http://scottbrown.senate.gov

America doesn’t need a "debate" or a "dialogue" on gun violence it needs action -- as it has for decades. Now is the time, Moms of America.