Additional Activities on Sept 17, 2013

Due to the horrific events at the Washington Navy Yard, the hearing scheduled by Senator Durbin on “Stand Your Ground” was postponed from 10 am Sept 17 to an unspecified date and time.  While disappointed that I could not attend this hearing, I did take the opportunity to visit Senator Hagan’s, Senator Burr’s and Representative McIntyre’s offices to urge each to support gun violence prevention legislation.  The events of the previous day only highlighted in my mind the importance of pursuing improved gun violence prevention legislation.  It is sad to think that one of the factors allowing Alexis to obtain a gun is the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act which made it more convenient for gun buyers.  According to Kristen Rand, the legislative director at the Violence Policy Center,  “The convenience of the gun owner always seems to trump the right of victims not to be shot”.  This must change.  Let Your Voice Be Heard!

March on Capitol Hill to Promote Gun Violence Prevention with NAA, Sept 17, 2013

Yesterday was an exceptional day with dozens of concerned individuals including me meeting with over forty representatives to convey our dismay at the continued lack of action by Congress on gun violence prevention.  Many of the participants were gun violence victims or parents and children of gun violence victims.  Their stories are compelling to any normal, caring individual.  They were allowed to tell their stories to the over 40 representative offices visited and ask for each representative’s help in preventing further victims of gun violence.  Our group included two young men whose lives were forever changed due to gun violence,  stopping a career in one case and permanently handicapping in another.  The parents of the young girl from Chicago who participated at a function for President Obama and was killed by a gun shortly thereafter where present and determined to make a difference.  Another young man involved yesterday lost both of his parents to gun violence and has been advocating for improved gun violence prevention ever since.  Parents of victims from the Aurora and Sandy Hook tragedies were present and actively trying to create a change in the attitude of Congress to support common sense gun violence prevention legislation.  Their courage to be a part of this event and to publicly tell their heart wrenching stories to make the gun violence issue real to these representatives was inspiring.  I wish you all could meet them and see their determination.  It was an honor to participate in this event alongside such courageous people.  Many groups were represented at this event including but not limited to the Newtown Action Alliance, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Coalition Against Gun Violence and numerous others.  The letter that was given to the representatives had over 100 organizations supporting this effort including GunControlToday.  The total number of individuals represented by these organizations is over 10 million people.  We are making progress but we need over 100 million to voice their concern for this issue.  

The letter to the representatives that was delivered yesterday listed the names of over 8000 gun violence victims that have occurred since the Sandy Hook tragedy trying to encourage the representatives into action.   At the meetings I attended the argument against passing broader back ground checks centered around mental health issues.  The representatives felt the civil rights of mental health individuals were not being protected sufficiently by the proposed legislation.  It is important to protect civil rights and we encouraged them to consider the civil rights of the gun violence victims too.  It is interesting to note that the potential infringement of the civil rights in a mental health case has been more influential with the representatives than the civil rights of an innocent person who has been shot dead with a gun.  We have an epidemic in this country of gun violence and need to take action to prevent it spreading further.  

The other discussion point raised by some is the real matter of enforcement.  The argument is that the current laws are not enforced so why go to the trouble of adding more laws that will not be enforced.  They have stated that law enforcement officials have told one representative that broader background checks would not make any difference.  There is evidence to the contrary.  Statistics from those locations that have passed broader background checks clearly demonstrate a reduction  in gun violence, particularly for women in domestic violence cases.  We must as a country take the time and energy to pass additional legislation that can potentially help stop the avalanche of gun violence in this great country.  Why does Congress not want to at least try.  Because it takes an effort and may not be as effective as we would like?  We must do what we can and, if it could help, why would we not do it.  Every state that has had the unfortunate occurrence of a mass gun killing has passed significantly improved gun violence prevention legislation.  Does every state have to experience this type of tragedy before we initiate federal legislation that will help prevent such actions.  I do not think so and urge you to be involved.             Let Your Voice Be Heard!