I applaud the Bismarck Tribune's editorial on gun violence that posed the question: Can we talk? Perhaps it should have posed a second: Will leaders listen?
My daughter's Florida college faced a gun emergency on Valentine's Day at the same time that the media began reporting of a mass shooting there. The fear I felt when I received that "automated alert" was just a taste of the horror faced by other parents that day. The shooting on my daughter's campus was a suicide, but it took hours to find that out. When she called, my joy was tempered by angst; both for the death, and that her first inclination was to apologize for my fright. Yes, our children now apologize for surviving!
The next day I called Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven and spoke with their staffs about school safety, mental health and guns. I made repeated attempts over two days to reach Rep. Kevin Cramer's office. I checked Facebook for his thoughts on the issues or for a public meeting. I found neither. A district office finally took my contact information, explaining that our congressman and his staff are "very busy" and screen calls.
It's been two weeks, and I still await contact. The congressman's Facebook now includes a post of a semi-automatic with a finger on its trigger. It accompanies an interview, mostly on his Senate race, but he finally addresses the senseless slaughter by supporting current law and using taxpayer funds to incentivize our governments to do the right thing.
Really, congressman? Can we talk? Let's talk about my daughters; one who teaches and another still willing to become one. Let's talk gun violence. Then, as a former communications director for a Republican governor, I'll give you my thoughts on the importance of talking and meeting with mere constituents.
Mary Ellen Fritz, Bismarck