A Plea to the New Congress

 

Yes, you have much to do. You confront a massive agenda; many people are counting on you for reform. First on your list should be sane, national gun control.

The Parkland students rallied the country and changed some Florida laws—but too briefly, too little. Since then, we’ve had the Thousand Oaks and synagogue shootings. In what kind of country are kids afraid to go to school? “You go to a movie theater in Aurora and all of a sudden your life is taken,” Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis said. “You’re at a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon, and your life is taken. It has to stop, these senseless deaths.”

The U.S. must follow the lead of Canada, Australia, Japan, the UK, France and every other civilized nation, to abolish or severely restrict firearms. Other countries’ death rates by guns are miniscule compared to ours. U.S. residents aren’t inherently more violent; they simply have an unrestricted access to deadly weapons that astonishes residents of other countries.

The Second Amendment gave citizens the right to muskets–not military assault rifles. Although polls suggest most people favor stricter gun laws, the NRA contributed $31 million to Trump’s campaign, and countless more to other legislators. The popular slogan puts it pungently: “teachers stand up to gunmen but Congress won’t stand up to the N.R.A.”

Richard Blanco continued that theme in a poem read at the 2013 inauguration:

“the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain

the empty desks of twenty children marked absent

today, and forever. “

Tom Teves, whose 24-year old son was killed in the Aurora CO shooting says, “If you can’t shoot a deer with one bullet and kill it, you’re not a sportsman.” No hunter uses the kinds of weapons nor large magazines that have caused such devastation. Yet, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004, has not been renewed.

You could change that. As you prioritize issues, ask the parents of a six-year old, murdered at Sandy Hook, what should come first.

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