It is now almost one year since Tucson and the nation were traumatized by a gunman outside a Safeway. Six dead, including a nine-year-old girl. Thirteen wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose courageous steps toward recovery inspire us all. Yet the gunfire continues, in communities across our nation. And the dying goes on.
Some would suggest that American gun violence is an intractable scourge, with obstacles to progress that are just too high and too numerous. The American people don't believe that, not for a minute. There is no better time to make that clear than January 8, 2012, the first anniversary of the Tucson shooting.
We urge people across this nation, in cities, suburbs and small towns, to join with the Brady Campaign, and many others on that day, to stand as one to remember the victims of American gun violence and to say, with one simple act, that we will no longer tolerate the relentless loss of innocent lives to gunfire.
That simple act is to light a candle. Join us by participating in a nationwide candlelight vigil, to proclaim that there have been too many victims of gun violence for our nation to endure.
You can sign up to host a vigil in your community, or simply to participate in a vigil hosted by others, at www.toomanyvictims.org. This new website also will allow you to post a message, photo or video of a loved one you may have lost to gun violence.
Vigils are being organized in more than 20 cities and more are joining every day. Vigils will occur from coast to coast, in every region of the country.
The "Too Many Victims" Candlelight Vigil is about people. It is about the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the husbands and wives, the children and grandchildren, taken too soon. It is about the ever-mounting toll of devastated families, shattered communities, dashed and deferred dreams. It is senseless. It is unnecessary. It must be stopped.
When we declare with our lights, our prayers, and our songs on January 8, 2012, that there are too many victims of gun violence, we serve notice that we will not allow our loved ones to be forgotten. We will not allow our just cause to be shelved as "too difficult". We will light a candle to affirm that every life is precious and worthy, and already, far too many have been lost.
If not now, when?
If not for the more than 12,000 Americans murdered with guns since Tucson, then for whom?
If not for the more than 410,000 murdered with guns since we lost John Lennon in 1980, then for whom?
If not for the more than 530,000 murdered with guns since we lost Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, then for whom?
America, in so many ways, is a beacon of light, hope and justice to many nations throughout the world. But when it comes to gun violence, America has shined few lights and generated far too little hope for change. Our gun homicide rate is 20 times the combined rates of other western, industrialized nations. This is a uniquely American problem. It is time for Americans to insist that the time for action has come.
Please join us at www.toomanyvictims.org to be part of this effort. Help us light the way to a new American future free of gun violence. Help us send a message that there have been far too many victims. In fact, let's send a message that one victim is too many.
On January 8, light a candle against the darkness of gun violence.
Dennis Henigan is the Acting President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the author of Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy (Potomac Books 2009).
This item and previous entries also are posted at the Brady Blog.