The second day of the Democratic National Convention featured a group of speakers named the Mothers of the Movement, “mothers who lost their children to gun violence or to encounters with law enforcement.” The emphasis was on the pain that they have experienced and how Hillary Clinton as president could prevent future losses.
The mothers were introduced by a video showing Clinton meeting with them, telling viewers that she showed them respect and empathy and that her listening wasn’t about politics. That claim might be more believable if it hadn’t been made at a political convention, and the politics came through loud and clear in the claim that Clinton will call us to work together to make a constant drumbeat against gun violence.
Following the video, the mothers came on stage to chants of “black lives matter.” The first to speak was Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland. Speaking to the standard response when someone dies under police custody, Reed-Veal said that her daughter was not gone on administrative leave but from this world. She spoke the names of women who have died in similar circumstances and said Clinton will do so, too. Jordan Davis’s mother, Lucy McBath, focused on the message that families have to give to young black men about how they will meet people who don’t value their lives. In her view, Clinton will work to keep the club of mothers who have lost children to violence from growing. Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, wrapped up the speeches, telling the convention that Clinton has the compassion to support grieving mothers and will support “commonsense” gun legislation.
The death of Sandra Bland still has questions surrounding it. Jordan Davis’s killer was convicted of murder, and the debate over the death of Trayvon Martin will be with us for a long time to come. What wasn’t answered is how a president could solve any of what led to these deaths.
The proposals that Clinton has offered for police reform and gun control are at best a loose connection to the problems raised by the speakers. Guidelines on the use of force by police and ending racial profiling could have made the encounter between Sandra Bland and the police a simple matter of a fix-it ticket instead of a death. Ending mass incarceration is a good idea, if we’re talking about treating drug addiction as something to be treated by doctors, not courts.
What Clinton wants to do with regard to new gun laws would have done nothing to change what happened to Davis or Martin. Background checks? George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn had carry licenses. They had to have passed checks. “Military-style” weapons? The guns used were handguns. In the case of the Martin shooting, the weapon was a 7 + 1 round Kel-Tec with a magazine capacity that would have been legal under the original restrictions of the NY SAFE Act. If what Clinton has offered as workable solutions to gun violence are in fact the sum total of what she wants to do, nothing she promises addresses the pain of mothers who have lost or may lose children.
We have to respect the pain these mothers feel. But the factors involved in the loss of their children are disparate and will not be corrected by what Clinton proposes. The slickness of the message, though, cannot be challenged inside the hall. Whether voters will believe it remains to be seen.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.