“The victims of violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown… No one can be certain who next will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on an on in this country of ours. Why?” – Robert Kennedy the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.
When you both start elementary school you will have a drill where your teacher will have you hide quietly in your classroom. Some schools have been doing this since the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999 . Every school will be doing it by the time you start school because of the events on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. 20 children and 6 adults were killed in the second most deadly school shooting in US history.
I have told you here and will tell you when you old enough about my feelings about gun control and how it is something that is already long overdue. What I really hope to tell you is how you gun control changed after this event.
I am lucky enough to not be a parent affected by this tragedy but as your parent and a parent in general I owe it to the children and adults who died and the parents and siblings who survived to act on their behalf to keep this from happening again. Is there any way to completely prevent violence? Nope, sorry kids that is just not something anyone can do. What we can do is limit access to guns. We can make it harder for people to get guns. We can make it illegal AND impossible to have an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.
18 years ago I wrote a paper about gun control and my research for that paper has stayed with me forever. I saved that paper, not only was it the first paper I got an A on but it was the paper that inspired me to major in political science and galvanized my interest in how the government can improve/protect the lives of its citizens.
Some of the key points that have stayed with me over the years and are still important to today’s gun control debate is:
- The ATF estimates that possibly ALL the weapon (59 handguns, 12 shotguns, 94 rifles, 45 machine guns, 1.8 million rounds of ammunition and other weapons) that David Koresh and his followers had were purchased as parts and put together.
- Many people have a gun to keep them safe but keep it in their bedroom unloaded (Time Magazine survey in 1990).
- Firearm homicide rate in the United States is 7 times higher than Australia, 55 times higher than Great Britain and 58 times Japan. (Fact from 1993)
I am writing a letter to each and every one of my congressmen/women on the state and federal level, the President, the Speaker of the House and the Vice President to not just tell them that I think the time for watching this violence continue without action is over but give them my thoughts on what kind of gun control I want to see.
Here is what I would like to see happen
- Every gun owner must be licensed with a process like a driver’s license, written test, practical test (gun safety, assembly, care…etc.).
- Owners must be insured and their weapons are continually inspected like cars.
- Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are illegal. Technically speaking automatic weapons have been outlawed since 1986 but grandfathering and other ways around the law have kept those weapons available. Lets make that anyone who has a grandfathered one (like the one used in Newtown) must keep it at registered location (like a hunting club) and it must be checked out for use.
- The main mechanical part of the semi-automatic and automatic weapons can no longer be made or sold in the US. Since anyone with basic knowledge of guns can assemble an entire gun from parts so this is the only real way to keep the count the same and lower of these kinds of weapons.
- Set a limit to the number of weapons a person can own and can buy a year and in a lifetime.
- I also wanted to research if any of my elected officials have received money from the NRA, which they have not (see the list here). I will work hard through social media and any other medium to publicize those that do outside of my districts to make sure that the NRA money is not worth it for elected officials to take.
Sadly none of these efforts will stop violence, gun violence or other violence but I think the shooting in Newtown, Aurora, Portland, Oregon, Tuscon, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Waco….etc. shows that we simply have a problem in this country that we have to address to make this problem less of an issue. I owe it to you two and Charlotte, Daniel, Rachel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Dawn, Madeleine,Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Anne Marie, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Lauren, Mary, Victoria, Benjamin, and Allison
We need to remember that life is more important than the rights of the sportsmen and our need to have a militia is much different now then when our founding fathers wrote the constitution.
For more facts about gun violence and the need for stricter gun control laws here is another post I wrote about this topic the day BEFORE the Aurora shootings.