One year ago today, I woke up the same way millions of Americans did that morning: to a notification on my iPhone. As it was for so many, that morning was one I will never forget. It was a Sunday in early June, and I had just finished my first full week at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The New York Times, meanwhile, was already calling it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. By the end of my second full week at Brady, I would be on the ground in Orlando trying to support a devastated community.
I was drawn to Brady last summer (and back to Brady, this spring) because I know that there is still progress to be made if we want a safer country. I know this need for progress all too well. At 22 years old, I am a child of the era. I belong to an entire generation of young Americans that has grown up with the reality of mass shootings.
Virginia Tech, in 2007, is the first I can remember. I was 12 years old. I remember Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek in the years that followed. And what finally called me to action, as a senior in high school, was the murder of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut. My youngest sister was four years old at the time.
Now, one year after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the White House and the gun lobby's representatives in Congress threaten to undo so much of the progress we've made.
In some ways, they've already started.
The Social Security Administration can no longer report mentally impaired beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their own financial affairs to the FBI's National Instant Background Check System (NICS), prohibiting them from purchasing firearms.
Concealed carry reciprocity – the gun industry's push to allow dangerous people to carry anywhere – faces a looming showdown in Congress, and the "Hearing Protection" Act of 2017 aims to deregulate the sale of silencers – thereby opening them up to convicted felons and other dangerous individuals.
And we still have not expanded Brady background checks to all gun sales. Until Congress stands with the 93% of Americans who support expanding Brady background checks, there will continue to be more work to do.
While my generation of Americans is the first that has had to fear going to a nightclub, or to school, or to a movie theater, or to places of worship for the threat of gun violence, it is not too late to ensure that my younger sister's generation grows up differently. All it will take is the courage to do what's right.
One year after Orlando, now is the time to dig in. Now is the time to keep fighting.