Too often, when you raise the issue of guns in this country, it sparks highly divisive rhetoric with both sides drawing lines in the sand and pointing their arrows at each other. Caught in the middle, we see the faces and hear the voices of children who’ve witnessed the slaughter of their friends and teachers and who are crying out for action. The question is, will we hear them? Will we care enough to do something about it?
Horrific tragedies like the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just over one month ago is something that touches every one of us, regardless of political party or ideology. Sadly, it is something that could happen to any community, family, or school. This is why it’s so important that the humanity and aloha (respect and care) that unites us all must come to the forefront of our dialogue as we try to prevent these tragedies from ever occurring again.
On February 14th, 17 lives were lost in Parkland when a former classmate brought an AR-15 to school and opened fire on the students and teachers. He used a weapon that he had purchased legally – but he shouldn’t have been able to.
There have been more shootings since that day, and there will be more in the coming weeks and years if we don’t come together and find solutions. Survivors and allies across the country have gathered in a show of solidarity, calling for change – to do whatever possible to prevent more of these horrific tragedies from occurring and taking innocent lives. They have organized country-wide protests and walk-outs, and on March 24th thousands will march on Washington and at marches across the country. We are proud to stand with these courageous young people today and every day.
But Congress has yet to act.
The majority of people across this country believe that we need to pass common sense gun safety legislation. A Gallup poll found that two thirds (67 percent) of Americans feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict; A Quinnipiac University poll found that over six in ten Americans (63 percent) support stricter gun laws in the United States; And a CNN poll found that seven-in-ten Americans (69 percent) favor stricter gun control laws.
There are a number of legislative actions that have been proposed but have yet to see the light of day on the House floor. Passing this legislation would be a step in the right direction to protecting our kids and innocent people across this country:
Assault weapons have been, by far, the most used weapon in mass shootings in recent history. They are used for a number of reasons: they are easy to acquire, and they are designed to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. The shooter who killed 59 people in Las Vegas on October 1st last year used a semi-automatic gun modified with a bump stock, turning it into an automatic rifle. The 19-year-old shooter who killed 17 people at his former school on February 14th of this year used an AR-15, a semi-automatic weapon.
The fact assault weapons are so frequently used to kill enormous numbers of people in this country, and that bump stocks are not illegal, are issues that we must address. A Quinnipiac University poll found that six in ten Americans (61 percent) support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, and an NPR-Ipsos poll found that 82 percent support banning bump stocks.
High-capacity ammunition magazines are frequently used by mass shooters in the United States. The Giffords Law Center explains that “shooters with such magazines can fire at large numbers of people without taking the time to reload, those in the line of fire do not have a chance to escape, law enforcement does not have the chance to intervene, and the number of lives shattered by senseless acts of gun violence increases dramatically.”
A majority of Americans believe that access to these high-capacity ammunition magazines should be banned. A CNN poll found that over six-in-ten (63 percent) Americans favor a ban on the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines. A Quinnipiac University poll similarly found that over six in ten (63 percent) of Americans support a nationwide ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘The Gun Control Debate: What Debate?’