Letter to the Editor

‘Help us,’ Texas officials

Marshall Against Violence by design is non-partisan when it comes to topics that can be, or are, political. We’ve never openly endorsed a political candidate, nor do we have any intention of doing so. Our purpose is raising awareness of public or domestic violence through community outreach. That’s not going to change. But, what has changed is our approach to events, especially when certain incidents keep popping up. Crime, especially violent crime, is likely to never stop.

That is partly why MAV as an organization has begun to allow candidates to speak at our events. Or, in some instances, offering to host public forums for candidates who might be interested in hearing what someone might say. For example, we hosted a forum between Coke Solomon and Reid McCain for Harrison County District Attorney. We have also had an open invitation to Dr. Shirley J. McKellar of Tyler, a candidate for Congress, to come to our events, many of which she has.

MAV has also reached out to and cooperated with various members of the Marshall City Commissioners Court. Some of whom including William “Doc” Halliday, Michael Mitchell, and LaDarius Carter, have attended. We have always appreciated the support from our city and county government officials when they can attend.

But, beyond that, despite our repeated efforts to receive a response, we haven’t yet had a call, an email, or a letter from the offices of Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, or John Cornyn. This isn’t to say that they’re unwilling to come speak with us, or even to respond. But, it would be more comforting to know that they had responded. Especially since every time we have contacted them has been after something like a mass shooting, or incidence of gun related violence that we have had an event for.

All three have publicly made a pro-gun stance.

It was under this weight that we attended the Texas State Democratic Party Convention in Fort Worth to speak with party leaders and attend the Gun Violence Caucus. State party chairman, Gilberto Hinojosa, attended the caucus and spoke to the standing room only crowd. There were at least 200 people in the room with more spilling out into the hallway.

Hinojosa challenged the crowded room to reach out to their current elected officials over their concerns for the safety of children, many of whom were represented by the Austin’s March For Our Lives leadership council, the youngest of whom is only 16. Others in the crowd, many of whom spoke, were survivors of gun violence, or relatives or friends of victims. One was a young man from Newtown, Connecticut. Another, a German immigrant who had protested against violent fascism in Germany during the Cold War. The best way that all agreed to come to a solution was to remain active, and if a politician didn’t, or wouldn’t respond, then to vote them out.

The growing concern expressed at the caucus did not end when the meeting did. It carried over to the general assembly that evening where 7,500 democrat delegates, as well as guests, candidates, and VIPS all shouted “Enough is enough” in the first topic addressed by the assembly for the platform.

A group of school children and activists moved out onstage bearing signs and placards begging to be noticed. They had been standing a silent vigil in the exhibition hall earlier in the day, while outside, a Black Lives Matter protest over shootings in Fort Worth had gone on. Amid all of the yelling, and frustration, a lone, soft voice spoke up. A sixth grader who took the stage and tearfully played his school’s Active Shooter warning on his smart phone and then said that he and his classmates only had twenty-five seconds to find a hiding spot during each drill or they were considered a casualty.

“Help us.” he pleaded repeatedly.

Many of us are gun owners. Many of us are supporters of the Second Amendment. And, though we may all disagree on how to solve the issue, the arguing and yelling isn’t going to help. This isn’t a simple problem to solve, and legislators who refuse, or who are for some reason unwilling to act to address it shouldn’t be allowed to remain in office. Especially since gun violence is considered a public safety concern by groups who track these incidents.

We hope everyone will be willing to get involved, because as our motto says we are all In It Together, To End It Together.

Johnathan McCarty, Marshall