This article was written by Cath Kestler, Activist and resident of Silver Creek for the past 31 years.
Last Wednesday, it was late in the afternoon as I sat at my dining room table putting pen to paper making a “To Do” list as most women do this time of year. The kitchen was filled with the aroma of one of my family’s favorite meals, our beloved dogs were at my feet (probably thinking that since I’m at the table, maybe a stray scrap of Mom’s lasagna would fall off the table); looking out the window I noticed one of those beautiful WNY sunsets were beginning to develop, across the room I heard that dreaded sound from across the room: Breaking News Report. Another mass shooting was unfolding before my eyes. The vibrant hues of the color red proved to be a warning to me, the airwaves were filled with reports of two to three shooters wearing all black tactical gear, carrying assault weapons at a San Bernardino developmental resource center that cares for that developmentally disabled individuals. Fourteen presumed dead and fourteen injured, reporters stated, details were sketchy at the moment.
A tear developed in the corner of my eye, having a daughter that works closely with the developmentally disabled individuals in our town; what stung even more is the fact that we have much loved family members with developmental disabilities. It was actually at a holiday/training luncheon for the caregivers of the individuals utilizing the center who were the target by one of their own.
Most people who know me, have told me I am brutally honest to a fault, I frequently have been accused as being outspoken and I currently take up the task with some pretty phenomenal women as activists in our area. We speak out and fight for the issues that affect all of us in Chautauqua County and across the country. My columns are written from a liberal (not librul) progressive point of view to further the agenda that the majority of Americans feel is at the best interest of the country at large. Frequently, after reading my column I get a barrage of comments online by obvious bloviating males afraid of a woman’s point of view armed with hard facts. The words of Richard Nixon come to mind when I read the comments and trying to understand the ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’ that regurgitate the same points over and over again never really talking about the subject at hand. I guess, some digress…
While this investigation continues into what and why this occurred, the ones suffering are the victims, whether they’re alive, deceased or injured; the sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandparents real question remains: When is Congress going to do what must be done? The world is watching, not just our country; and waiting, to see what will be done.
In a rare address from the Oval Office last night, President Obama called on Congress to authorize military operations against the Islamic State and to tighten gun restrictions. He stated, ‘The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and other organizations that try to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smarnd obviously the individuals impacted. With time, hearts, thoughts and wounds will heal, but the rt, resilient and relentless and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.
To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on the no-fly list should be able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what ISIL wants. ISIL does not speak for Islam, they are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world—including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslims. If we’re succeeding in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of the strongest allies rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.
Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges—whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks—by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.’
Before last night poignant speech by President Obama, the cover of the New York Times for the first time since the 1920’s had an editorial that basically boils down to, “Opponents of gun control are saying…that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did. But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.”
We as a nation voiced our outrage and demanded Congress take action immediately regarding gun reform legislation. What was Congress’ answer? To bring a vote up and pass for the 60th time to repeal the ACA and to defund Planned Parenthood. Our Congressman of the NY 23rd district voted, “Yay” to take away much needed clinics for women’s issues and take away insurance for roughly, over 15 million newly insured Americans; some of which this is their only chance at being able to afford health insurance.
Congress chose to ignore gun reform despite this tragedy and others like it. It boils down to the fact that the majority of Congress is on the payroll of the powerful NRA lobby to the tune of over $30 million this year alone. Rep. Tom Reed has gotten his fair share to the amount of $8,950 and I’m betting dollars to doughnuts that another check is on its way due to the fact that Congress refuses to admit we have a gun legislation problem.
When the people were killed in this latest tragedy, my Congressman, Tom Reed said he is praying for the victims. When Rep. Tom Reed asks you for money this campaign season, and he will, I think we should tell him we’ll pray he gets some.