WHEN THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AREN’T ENOUGH by Taylor Schumann

An excellent, excellent, excellent book.

I have been following Taylor Schumann for a little while now on Instagram and Twitter. I was excited when she decided to write a book because I was interested in reading her story in whole rather than the bits and pieces I’ve picked up over time. What I didn’t expect was to read a book chocked full of personal experience AND logical steps we can take to clarify and strengthen our society. This book met me at the crossroads of faith, patriotism, and common sense gun reform.

Taylor is ‘just a mom’. A young, married, mom of an adorable and precocious son – just like many other young moms you know. But Taylor was also shot, at 23 years old, while hiding in the closet of the community college where she was employed. Reading her account of this shooting was enthralling. Hearing about the court proceedings – so interesting. Feeling broken-hearted while reading her immediate and continuous challenges since the shooting (example: She can’t be without her phone. While hiding in the closet, she didn’t have her phone with her.) Taylor covers common myths, policy changes, and a very important item: how to discuss gun violence with others.

This book outlines some of the loopholes that would help strengthen all of our safety. Taylor doesn’t discount gun ownership. She lives a life based on faith and belief in God’s creation. I appreciate that she holds the two firm beliefs – Christianity and gun reform – in a balanced embrace. I firmly believe her approach is that of the majority of us, not the extremes we see on the nightly news. It was refreshing and affirming to read.

Here are a few loopholes that caught me off guard:

1) The Boyfriend Loophole: Currently, the federal law prohibits people from possessing or purchasing a gun if they have been convicted of domestic violence and/or are under a restraining order BUT only if the abuser has been married to, lives with, or has a child with the victim. The law does not cover abusive dating partners. Dating violence = simple assault. And simple assault doesn’t prevent someone from owning a gun.

2) The Stalking Loophole: People with a misdemeanor stalking conviction are not prevented from owning a gun.

3) If a background check doesn’t come back after three business days, the gun sale may proceed. Along with this loophole we need a notification to local police if a convicted abuser or stalker tries to buy a gun and fails a background check. Victims should also be notified.

Some states have these laws in place but without a federal mandate, people will simply travel from a strict state to a neighboring state that has looser gun laws for their gun purchase.

One of my favorite lines from the book actually came from Taylor’s husband:

“We all need to remember the last time we changed our mind about something.”

This isn’t one of those crazed books about taking away all guns or advocating for laws so strict that no one can afford a gun. This is a book about a personal encounter in a prominent shooting incident, the resulting consequences, and reasonable requests for gun safety purchasing and ownership.

I was so impressed by the totality of this book. I took more notes on this book than I have for any book in a very long time. Please consider picking it up for yourself. I think you’ll be as moved and empowered and challenged as I was. What more can you ask of a book???

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It Feels Like a Sad Day To Be a Smart Girl

Can we agree to lay politics aside just a minute?

Today was a difficult day (another difficult day) in politics. Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the presidential process was disheartening for her supporters I’m sure, but it was discouraging to watch as a women.

dem women

Again…laying politics aside…it is hard to challenge the fact that both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are highly intelligent women. (To say nothing of the other female presidential candidates.) They have been stalwarts in their fields and staunch supporters of both children and working class families. They have been willing to take on challenges and to do so publicly. They are both highly articulate and had detailed plans for how they wanted to change the ills that face America. Whether you supported or believed in those plans or not, I think we can agree that the plans were backed by thorough research and compassionate thought – not merely campaign rhetoric and catchphrases to win clicks and likes.

I recently finished reading Leadership In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (which I will be doing a review on shortly.) While reading this book about Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson during the day, my hours were interspersed with cable news and Twitter updates. It was a strange dichotomy. In her book Goodwin talks about FDR’s Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins. Roosevelt appointed her to his presidential cabinet in 1933. She was the first female secretary of labor in the United States.

I couldn’t escape the reoccuring thought that before my own father was born, we had a women in the cabinet and yet here we are today, 2020, 87 years later, unable to send a women to the White House.

Admittedly, I am probably too hard on women running for historically ‘male roles’. If a woman is too showy or too flighty or trying to get by on her looks and charm – I smell it immediately and dismiss her summarily. But Hillary and Elizabeth? Their political record is long, their successes many and their abilities unquestioned.

I do not know the solution to this stumbling block except to keep persisting as they say. But I sit in my discouragement this evening and wonder – when will a ‘smart girl’ be simply a ‘viable candidate’? When will authentic hard work and bravery be rewarded in females? In men, are such attributes merely assumed qualities?

During Hillary’s campaign and this current political campaign I have been adamant about picking a candidate that is qualified regardless of gender. It isn’t enough to send a woman to the White House simply because she is a woman – it must be the candidate that is the most qualified to lead our country and it’s many sectors.

This evening I watch another qualified candidate slip into the ether and ask myself if it will ever happen in my lifetime. Will a qualified, intelligent, articulate, thoughtful female ever make it to Pennsylvania Avenue as the leader of our country?

I have four more years to wait and see.