Every child lost to gun violence is your child. Each death diminishes us. Silence is not an option — inaction is not an option.
Since Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, there have been 220 school shootings, yet not one gun bill has been passed by the U.S. Congress. Reaching across the aisle and compromise has not saved one life. President Obama, therefore, passed 23 Executive Orders in 2013, two more in 2014, and another one in 2016.
However, California has passed 26 firearm prevention laws since 2013, and our gun deaths are declining. In 2016 Californians voted to pass the Safety for All Initiative, or Proposition 63, and in 2014 after Isla Vista, the Gun Violence Restraining Order was signed into law.
Life is an unalienable right, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” (Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776)
We constantly hear, “I have my Second Amendment Rights.” According to the newly interpreted Second Amendment, Americans do have the right to have a firearm in their home for self-defense. Justice Scalia stated, “Second Amendment rights are not absolute,” and the amendment does not grant the “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose. “
Our response must be: “I have the right not to be shot.”
No other country in the Western world has the level of violence attributable to firearms. America’s culture of violence provides a crucible for permissible murderous acts. We must demand an end to the politics of death and sorrow. We’ve had enough prayers and tears. Millions of families will grieve for a lifetime. We must consider the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. We must also consider conflict resolution and what most Americans can agree upon.
We must all — gun owners and non-gun owners — resist the fear and hatred sown by the National Rifle Association (NRA) currently ensconced in the Oval Office.
We can agree on these facts:
• There are too many gun deaths in America: averaging 93 each day, 33,000 each year. Guns are here to stay. No one’s going to take your gun away — it’s a fear tactic used by the gun lobby.
• 90% of Americans want universal background checks
• Gun control advocates and organizations don’t talk about banning all guns. They talk about reasonable gun policies, and they work closely with law enforcement.
There is an animus, a profound anger, fear and hate that exist among a small segment of our population. A fear fed by the NRA and extremists in our society who encourage intolerance of “the other,” people perceived as different and not “one of us.” These individuals suggest that we “arm up,” carry firearms everywhere, and be prepared to use them against our fellow Americans. This rhetoric of suspicion sows seeds of violence, especially in unstable individuals.
The constant reality of death by gun is a true message that we are all affected by gun violence. Wake up, America, to this scourge of gun violence. Do not succumb to the NRA’s message of fear and hate.
There can be no acceptance of the epidemic of gun deaths. This is not a political problem it is a national public health and safety crisis.
Resist the NRA’s agenda of fear. Demand action on gun-violence-prevention legislation.
Data confirms that California’s rate of firearm mortality rate declined by more than double the decline in the rest of the nation. Since 2000, there has been no decline in the rest of the country, but the decline in California has continued.
The reckless and heartless agenda coming out of the Oval Office and Congress to erode the 60 gun legislation laws passed in California over 20 years is real and we must each take a stand and resist — get involved — take action. You can join us at the Coalition Against Gun Violence.
The Coalition Against Gun Violence invites you to its 22nd Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, May7, with featured keynote speaker, the esteemed Mike Feuer, Los Angeles City Attorney. This year’s theme is “Resist — Protect California’s Smart Gun Laws and Take Action.” Our program will include a unique town hall led by Geoff Green, CEO of the SBCC Foundation, with most of our elected officials who will address the current status of gun violence laws in California and the nation. Please join us at the historic Santa Barbara Club at 1135 Chapala Street from 2:30-5:30 p.m. We will enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres, food theme tables, wine and no-host bar, plus beverages and dessert. The Santa Barbara High School Jazz Band, led by their music director Kearney Vander Sal, will lend their music to the celebration of laws that have saved lives.
For information and reservations about this stellar event, please visit our website: sbcoalition.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toni Wellen is chair of the Coalition Against Gun Violence.