How a Gun Control Petition Went from Tumblr to Washington DC

I created the petition “Immediately address the issue of control through the introduction of legislation in Congress" as a knee-jerk reaction in mid-December of last year. It was a way of gaining control over a situation I had no control over. After the awful extent of the Sandy Hook shootings became clear, I felt disoriented. The mind tends to turn toward blame, but the murder of twenty children and six school officials was, and will always be, a hard thing to wrap my head around.

I knew that if there ever were a tipping point for effective gun control, this would be it. So, I wrote a petition. My primary goal was to appeal to both sides of the debate. Writing an incendiary, partisan petition benefits no one. The vast majority of gun owners are people who have the Constitutional right to own one, several, or many guns, and singling these people out was wrong. Simply put, the petition was intended to start a realistic dialogue about guns and their role in the United States. We have a gun problem, plain and simple.

So I wrote what was on my mind, posted it directly to my Tumblr account, and within hours it had thousands of signatures. Twenty five thousand signatures were required for a response from the President’s office, and the petition reached that number by the end of the day. At that point, it jumped off Tumblr and showed up on Twitter and Facebook. My friend at ShortFormBlog even called it “super-viral.”

The petition broke the record for the most signatures ever on a White House petition, received all sorts of press and, in my mind, had accomplished what I wanted. In a matter of days, people temporarily moved beyond grief, anger, and vengeance, and instead focused on the question of “what can we do to help.” At one point I even had a Facebook friend asking me to sign my own petition.

Admittedly, I felt some level of guilt — as though this effort, in the face children shot down in cold blood, would affect anything. What does a petition really mean in light of such an evil act? I can’t answer that, but I know we had started a dialogue that was beyond the typical American mass shooting response.

Eventually, President Obama uploaded a video response to the petition — his first ever. He made it clear that he was not willing to back down on certain parts of gun control. Twenty murdered children called for more than just another theatrical congressional debate. He handed the task to Vice President Biden.

A few weeks later, I received an invitation from the White House to attend yesterday’s signing of President Obama’s executive orders for gun control. It was a bittersweet moment. I sat near a family who had lost a child in Newtown, CT, and dozens of others who had invested far more time than myself when it came to gun control. But at the risk of being overdramatic — as President Obama spoke, it became clear that I was there because Americans actually want change when it comes to gun control. The two women to my left had signed my petition. I just had the right timing and reached out to the right people, but 200,000 people signed the petition because enough is enough. This is not a liberal agenda; it’s something a majority of Americans want happen.

So, coming full circle, a petition turned into a movement. People within the White House even commented to me that it had a real impact on the expediency of the legislative action we saw yesterday. And, in Washington D.C., that’s really saying something. For all those who think signing a petition is like writing a letter to Santa Claus, you’re wrong. Of course, you should keep reading books, go for a run, anything that keeps you healthy and sharp … but know that social media changes people’s lives.

David Glynn
Photo by Adam Garber

Watch on shortformblog.com

Here’s Obama’s response to the gun control petition launched by Perzadook.

And It Has Been Answered... #AcademyAwhydidIdothis

The game is afoot, and we have come to terms. Oscar Challenge 14 has commenced and a victor will have her (Noelle’s) spoils. 

Once again, it is winner-take-all for all categories for tomorrows awards, and the loser must acquiesce to the successors rewards, or do dumb stuff on Tumblr.

And so it goes, the terms of The Bet:

  • (If Noelle is the [Prophesied, Clearly Ultimate] Winner: 

Lots of you are lovely, and take lovely selfies. My gambit is to have Chris re-create these selfies after they are published, including wigs, props, and possibly some legs. He is to publish ten (10) of these from March 3-March 31 of his choosing. This means that the selfies  you publish will be lovingly recreated by the be-bearded Chris Huff (@beerburritowhiskey). This is in no way a mockery but an homage. This also means that you are welcome to put him into compromising positions. I have requested leg pics.

 That means that ya’ll can get creative and pose in various fashions that would be funny on a (handsomely) aging 36 year-old. 

  • If [the skies open up and Lucifer himself changes the natural course of history and] Noelle loses:

As was suggested and subsequently amended by @perzadook (followed!), in the unlikely case I am thwarted… which is unlikely (hubris!) I will submit to four (4) audio-only monologues from Oscar-winning movies (one of which will be chosen by me), posted on Mondays, …recorded while completely hammered on Saturday night. I have no right to veto these recordings and I will be super wasted. 

All of these events will be posted on both Tumblrs and we hope will be reblogged. Thank you for participating, and God help us all. 

Milo gettin down on that sweet, sweet cold tile. Perzadook, I can’t tag you for some reason, but what are your thoughts on dive bars where you know the DOGS by name?

perzadook said:

With being fairly descriptive, talk about the next 2-3 years for you. Specific plans, fears, good/fun things you are planning to do etc.

Well, I’ve got two years of school left so the next 2-3 years should be big ones in the grand scheme of things. This fall I’ll be transferring to a larger (read: better) university to finish out my English degree so I can go on to have a career in something I’m currently unaware of.

I’m also in a long distance relationship with the lovely deneece and so that factors into a lot of my plans. We have no real idea logistically how to make it happen** but the short term plan is to move her to Canada temporarily for a while or the duration of my degree. Once I’m finished the plan is for both of us to head back to America, where we belong.

I won’t even get into fears, I’m a bit too afraid of them. That’s a lot of difficult stuff to accomplish and right now I’m counting on all of it working out. So obviously my fear is that I know there’ll be bumps in the road.

I’ve also just started a new job this week and while I’m still in training I’m really enjoying it and making decent money for the first time in a long time. It was originally just going to be for the summer but the plan now is to stay full time for the summer and then go part time through the school year. Really hoping that pans out.

** If you know anything about immigrating to Canada or temporarily working there, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease message me.

perzadook said:

Ok last question for the night. Is this a comedy with dramatic moments or vice versa? Also, I want to guess Groundhog Day, but MacDowell doesn't get hurt/die (as far as I remember).

Indeed it is not Groundhog Day, as the hint that two principals of the movie die (what I’ve inferred so far) is completely not applicable to that movie.

The movie is a drama. It’s got a few absurd moments. There is an element of suspense throughout. 

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