By Korey O’Brien – January 20, 2013
President Barack Obama is set to begin his second term the way his first term ended. Gun control went to the top of his list when the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre happened. And now Americans are speaking out any way they can.
Joe Sudbay is a social media guru and formerly part of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He believes that social media has given Americans a new voice. During his earlier work with the Brady Campaign, there were no blogs, no Facebook, and no Twitter.
“I think that over the past couple of weeks and months, particularly since Newtown, there has been really and amazing discussion in those mediums about it. And people are finding a way to participate in the process and make their voices heard,” says Sudbay.
On January 19th, “#gunappreciationday” was a trending topic on Twitter. It was an effort for pro-gun advocates to share their support for gun owners. Interestingly Sudbay noticed that anti-gun Twitter users were tweeting using the same “hashtag” to speak out against guns and gun violence.
Sudbay says now that we have social media at our fingertips, he has seen an outcry of people wanting to get involved to help. He finds people who never would have gotten involved now are writing to him asking what can they do. And they are a different activist population than he has seen in the past.
Sudbay recalls: “I worked with so many people who came out to help, but the only reason they got involved was because the worst thing in the world had happened to them. Their kid was killed. Or their husband. Or their wife.”
On January 16th, President Obama signed 23 executive orders as part of his national gun control plan designed to prevent tragedies such as in Newtown. These orders included background checks, nominating an Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco director, and mental health regulations. Further changes on gun control issues lie up on Capitol Hill.
“Right now it’s up to Congress. And it’s up to every individual member of Congress,” says Sudbay. “And I actually think they should take the votes. Maybe some of these things won’t pass. But let the American people know where they stand on each and every one of these issues.”