by Tom Buglio, Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
As the 1st anniversary of the most shocking school shooting in American history approaches, we have an opportunity to reflect on how Americans face the issue of gun violence since that fateful day. Is there an acknowledgement that guns in the wrong hands is a serious problem?
According to Salon.com, 28,117 people have died by gunfire since Sandy Hook, including 16 mass shootings, and an astounding 26 school shootings! Any sane person looking at the evidence understands that we are awash in an ongoing gun violence epidemic that needs our serious attention and efforts to curb. Clearly, the majority of Americans support stronger gun laws, including over 90% supporting universal background checks, as well as support reducing the size of bullet magazines. We support greater access to mental health care, as well as common sense requirements like mandatory gun safety training for every gun owner, and universal use of gun locks.
What have our leaders done? Nationally, President Obama has made some progress in executive actions taken since Newtown, but serious gun legislation failed in Congress. A handful of states have passed some new common sense gun safety measures, but not here in PA. Even a mild, common sense bill like HB 1010, which would close the loophole on requiring all private sales for rifles to go through a background check is stuck in committee. Why? because of the fear our politicians feel when acting contrary to the wishes of the gun lobby. It is amazing how much power a small minority of gun rights advocates can have over our legislators, when the vast majority of constituents feel differently.
There are some Republicans, like Chris Ross, Patrick Meehan and Pat Toomey, who have committed to cosponsor background check bills. But until we get more legislators willing to defy the wishes of the small but loud gun rights advocates who object to any new laws, and more citizens willing to make more noise than the gun lobby, we will continue to read about gun deaths every day. We owe it to the memories of the Sandy Hook angels and all victims of gun violence to create the change that makes us all safer.
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West Chester, PA 19382