Last week following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, I felt compelled to write my congressman urging him to do something about the gun violence plaguing our country. I shared the letter on my blog last week and urged readers to use it as a template for writing their own.
I feel compelled to write again this week, a week in which we marked the third anniversary of the shooting deaths of 20 first graders and six of their adult caregivers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I have to write again, in memory of the children who lost their lives to a man who desperately needed mental health care and didn’t get it, not even from his mother. Maybe I shouldn’t write that, because really, we don’t know if she tried to get him help.
I blame the system more than the mother, but he did get his weapons from her. And she taught him how to use them, including an assault rifle that held 30-round magazines. That was her right under the Second Amendment, many argue, but what about the rights of those first graders? Does the second amendment really allow us to own and carry military-style assault weapons? I don’t think this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind. As times and technology change, we have to change with it.
The New York Times advocated for common-sense reforms in a front-page editorial last week. They wrote:
It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
They are correct. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation. Yet as I watched the GOP Presidential debate on Tuesday night, a debate that centered on national security and keeping the American people safe, CNN moderators didn’t ask a single question about the reasonable regulation of guns. And not one of the candidates brought it up.
Is it reasonable for our leaders to not even consider that our easy access to guns, especially guns that are designed for mass killing, might be part of the debate over protecting Americans from terrorism?
The common denominator in mass shootings — and I consider every single one of them an act of terrorism — is the possession of multiple guns capable of killing at a rapid pace. The shootings at Umpqua Community College, Planned Parenthood and San Bernardino were all committed with legal weapons. Do we have to make it so easy for them?
Congress could begin to address this epidemic with some of the actions outlined in the letter below. Every other developed nation on Earth has, and as a result, they don’t have shootings that come anywhere near the scale of ours.
When will we act to protect our children? Another 555 kids under the age of 12 have died from gunshots since Sandy Hook. Congress did nothing to prevent it.
We must keep on them to act.
If you agree — and polls show the majority of us do, even gun owners — please consider writing your own elected officials. Here is a template. And here is where you can find your Congressional representatives: in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
Dear Representative/Senator/Governor ______________,
I’m one of the vast majority of Americans who support reforms to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. More than 30,000 Americans die from firearms each year, including hundreds in mass shootings using assault weapons that were designed for military use.
Assault weapons were banned during the Clinton administration, with the lobbying support of Ronald Reagan. The ban expired in 2004 because gun-safety reforms have become a partisan issue. Why?
In honor of the 20 schoolchildren and six teachers who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary three years ago this week, I urge you to work together again and advance legislation to save American lives.
1. Require background checks for all gun sales, including sales from gun shows.
2. Bar people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from buying guns.
3. Renew the assault weapons ban.
4. Renew limits on high-capacity magazines.
5. Reform the mental health system and increasing funding.
6. Lift the ban on using federal funds for gun violence research
7. Make gun trafficking a federal crime.
8. Close loopholes that allow domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain guns.
I know we can’t stop every shooting, but we can stop enough to make a difference. Congress must act – and act now.