The following OP-ED is written by Toni Wellen, CAGV Chair
Once again America is awash in tears mourning the loss of precious lives to gun violence. The population of Roseburg and most especially Umpqua Community College will never be the same. Such numbing grief and profound sorrow enfolds this community. For all the literally thousands of Americans who have lost loved ones to gun violence, each of these deadly horrific acts reopens wounds that never really heal. It is with profound sadness that we extend our condolences to the families and the people of Roseburg.
We know that prayers and tears are not enough. Every American needs to wake up to this scourge of gun violence because it affects us all. This year there have already been 294 mass shootings that have ended 375 lives and injured more than 1000 Americans. 30,000 Americans die annually from gun
Yet gun advocates who continually invoke what they believe is their Second Amendment rights want more guns and concealed guns. The Second Amendment states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” “A well-regulated” means regulations on firearms, and does not infringe upon anyone’s Second Amendment rights. We have laws regulating everything in this country, why would firearms be exempt? The Supreme Court made it clear that the Amendment protects only a limited right and does not mean “any gun, anywhere, anytime.” This Congress refuses year after tragic year to pass a single law that would protect Americans from gun death and
The following facts tell us that in mass shootings and gun homicides, whether the gun was legally purchased or not, the killer is frequently, until that moment a law-abiding firearm owner pulling the trigger on a lawfully held
• In the 16 deadliest mass shootings in Europe, 86% of the victims were shot by a licensed shooter;
• In at least 29 American mass gun killings, 139 people were killed by gun owners with hidden handgun permits;
• In 16 mass shootings in Australia and New Zealand, 55% of the victims were shot by licensed gun owners using legally held firearms. (Source: Philip Alpers, Sydney School of Public Health, University of
The American people overwhelmingly support common-sense solutions to our gun violence epidemic – policies like universal background checks (88% Democrats and 79% Republicans: July 2015 Pew Poll), an assault weapons ban, a limit on ammunition clips and gun violence protective orders. Similarly, nearly 80% favor laws that would prevent the mentally ill from buying guns. But existing federal background checks prevent only a tiny slice of this population — those ruled mentally defective or involuntarily committed by a judge to a mental institution —from buying guns. Persons deemed emotionally unstable and hospitalized for at least 72 hours are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. However many states do not send this mental health information to the NICS database because they say they don’t have the funds. So these emotionally disturbed people are able to buy a gun if not in their home state, the state next door. The most helpful strategy to prevent the mentally ill from having firearms is to give family members, law enforcement and mental health professionals, who often know better than anyone else when someone’s mental state is deteriorating, an avenue to separate that person from any firearm. California’s new law “Gun Violence Restraining Order” passed six months after the Isla Vista, will do just that. Similarly, “A Pause for Safety” introduced by Congresswoman Lois Capps in the House and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer in the Senate awaits action in Congress. Blaming mental health and doing nothing is
We must demand change. And we can’t give up until we get it. Richard Martinez, who lost his son Chris at Isla Vista, was asked when he would give up fighting for better gun laws and he replied, “When I’m dead.” President Obama said after the shooting, “This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our
Take action in your own community today! The Coalition Against Gun Violence (CAGV) needs committed people who want to work on gun violence prevention. Contact and join CAGV, a nonprofit grassroots organization actively working for non-violence and educating the community since 1994. Visit our website: www.sbcoalition.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.