October 7, 2017 • BLOG ENTRY

We Can and We Must

A makeshift memorial for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. attribution: Getty Images

A friend texted me this past Monday morning:  “If 20 elementary school kids and President Obama couldn't get common sense gun safety laws passed, who can?”

We can and we must.  

Too many people are dying every day from guns.  Every time our country faces another horrific and tragic mass shooting, like this past week in Las Vegas, we stand up and shout for our legislators to do something.  But the truth is that everyday violence kills more Americans. On average each day 93 Americans are killed with guns, including 7 children and teens and 49 people who commit suicide by gun. The lack of common sense gun laws puts our law enforcement and first responders in mortal danger.  Who can stop this?

The week after the massacre at Sandy Hook, I was teaching in a first-grade classroom.  Our school was going to be honoring the victims with a moment of silence.  My students were too young to be told the true reason, so I suggested to them that we were going to close our eyes and send out holiday wishes to those who needed them.  When the time came, I watched as my six and seven-year-olds closed their eyes.  I saw their lips move.  Their seriousness and sense of purpose brought tears to my eyes.  Who can protect them?

My son fishes and hunts with his friends. It’s something they love to do and the 2nd amendment protects their right to do just that.  But when the massacre in the Aurora movie theatre occurred, my son was living in Denver.  He loves movies, but he no longer goes to movie theatres.  He loves live music.  Will he have to decide whether he’s willing to risk his life to hear a band play?  Who is going to make sure that our children can enjoy their lives without risk of being shot?

Common sense gun laws work.  Here in New Jersey, we have one of the lowest gun deaths per capita in the country because we have common sense gun laws.  Those laws include criminal background checks. My representative Leonard Lance, with his A rating from the NRA, wants to loosen federal laws imperiling our safety here in New Jersey.  He voted in favor of concealed carry reciprocity, which would in effect make our own state laws meaningless.  Rep. Lance also voted to allow people with mental disabilities to legally purchase guns.  His votes endanger us, our children, and our law enforcement agents.  So who is he protecting?  The NRA.  

Nothing will change until we close the gun show loophole and enforce universal background checks.  And we will never see those laws enacted as long as members of Congress are beholden to the NRA.  The safety of our loved ones, friends and neighbors depends upon electing representatives who will fight for common sense gun laws.  Can we outspend the NRA?  No.  But can we band together and use our power at the ballot box to ensure that our members of Congress will vote to represent us and not the gun lobby?

We can and we must.