I’m Eve Hurwitz. I’m a combat veteran, financial business owner, community organizer, candidate for Maryland Senate, and most importantly today, a Jewish mother. I am heartbroken and devastated by the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. I’m also angry.
I’m angry that the most powerful force in the world of firearms is virtually silent, while we watch helplessly as tragedy after tragedy strikes our communities. The NRA has abandoned its mission as an advocate and liaison for the people.
So I’m going to take this opportunity to give some little-known history of the NRA.
From its inception through the late 20th century, the NRA’s focus was gun safety. It promoted proper firearms training and supported legislation regulating the sale and use of dangerous weapons. As firearms evolved, the NRA evolved with them.
During Prohibition, with the development of the Thompson submachine gun (known as the Tommy gun) and its prevalent use in organized crime, the NRA supported and enforced the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1938. These acts regulated the sale and use of these deadly weapons.
In the 1960s, after President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, the NRA helped to pass and enforce laws that restricted convicted felons, drug abusers, and the mentally ill from purchasing firearms, and also reduced the sale of mail-order guns. It was not until the 1970s that the focus of the NRA shifted, after a leadership coup by a hyper-conservative faction that allied the organization with gun manufacturers.
I qualified as a sharpshooter in the Navy. I carried a sidearm on my combat missions, which amounted to hundreds of hours in the aircraft. I was not permitted to carry that weapon until I had been properly trained and demonstrated proficiency in its use.
We need to hold our civilians to the same standards as our military, especially as the proliferation of weapons continues. There are approximately one billion firearms in the world, and the United States owns about 40 percent of them.
It’s time for the NRA to stop lobbying for the gun industry and return to its roots as a public safety and sporting organization.
First action: hold the NRA accountable to their original mission. Ask them to hold free gun safety and storage training in your area, and request public support for closing gun show loopholes and increasing universal background checks. Talk about marksmanship lessons and community events. Tweet them, tag them, email them, and tell your representatives to do the same. Use #StepUpNRA.
Next action: Use your tech for good. We need to elect leaders who reflect our values. Community members who are connected, transparent, and accountable to the people. To achieve this, we need to do more than just vote. But it can be difficult to find time for volunteering or contacting representatives, between work and family and activities. And that’s where your smartphone comes in.
I am passionate about utilizing technology to bring people into their own governance. I recently spoke at an event where I met a data guru and former writer for President Barack Obama. She worked with a team of brilliant tech minds to develop an app for smartphones called VoteWithMe. This free app helps you find the contacts in your phone who could help decide elections.
You can then personalize and send a reminder text to help get them to the polls. Research shows us that reaching out to our networks in this way is 20 times more effective than the usual cold calls or door knocking. And you can do it on your couch while catching up on social media or Netflix binging.
We have all been called to action: how will you answer the call?