Tuesday February 20, 2018
We continue to to call upon Congress to restrict semiautomatic, military-style weapons for sale to, or purchase by, civilians.
How many people must die before we restrict ownership of semiautomatic weapons outside of the military? How many families must be torn apart? How many hopes and dreams will be shattered before we establish that these weapons of mass murder have no place among civilians?
This isn't an attack on the Second Amendment. That's a critical part of our form of government and to our freedoms. We, the people, must have the right to defend and protect ourselves and our families. But our Founding Fathers couldn't have envisioned a weapon that could be carried into a school and fired at children at the rate of about 90 rounds per minute.
Nor is it a restriction on game hunting.
It is a matter of common sense. More important, it's a matter of life and death among innocent, non-threatening people.
It's way past time to outlaw the civilian sale or transfer of semiautomatic AR-15s and similar weapons that are designed to destroy many human lives as quickly as possible. How many more of us would understand that and agree if it were our children, brothers and sisters, spouses or parents that were caught in a heavy rain of bullets with no time to find shelter?
Last week 17 people, most of them in their teens, were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., by a 19-year-old suspect who legally bought an AR-15, according to an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. According to Everytown, which describes itself as "an organization dedicated to understanding and reducing gun violence in America," there have been 291 incidents of guns fired in schools in the United States since 2013, including 17 in the first 45 days of 2018. Most of those were not with assault rifles, but the most deadly were.
We send our children to school expecting a safe environment where they can learn and grow. They already face intense peer pressure and bullying. Those are challenges our teachers and administrators are constantly addressing.
It's next to impossible to keep our children safe in school settings when someone has one of these weapons and is hell-bent on destroying lives.
Yes, there often are mental health issues that contribute to these incidents, and we need to do more to help people with those problems. Yes, we need to do more to prevent unstable people from having access to firearms. Yes, we need to strengthen security in our schools.
Right now, we need to restrict ownership of these assault weapons by civilians. Why would this suspect possibly have a use for such a weapon? Why would any of us?
We have long questioned the reasoning that allows civilians to own automatic and semiautomatic rifles. There has been enough pandering to hard-line organizations and individuals who believe there should be absolutely no restrictions on gun ownership.
How many more children must be massacred? How many more innocent people must die before our elected officials take responsible action that is long overdue?
We demand that all members of Congress and President Donald Trump put aside their petty political bickering and enact a law restricting civilian ownership of and access to assault-style weapons.
If they don't, they will be as responsible for the next massacre as the madman who is pulling the trigger, because they could have done something to help prevent it and instead failed to stand up and do the right thing.