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Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough
WASHINGTON - December 15 - We can only imagine the scale of the human tragedy that has unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut as reports continue to emerge about the massacre committed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There are many parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and others who will now never see their loved ones again, never again know the warmth of their presence, never see their potential realized over the course of their natural lives. While shockingly familiar, the nature of this tragedy has left those of us at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence feeling shaken to our core, physically and spiritually sick that this could happen in a civilized society in a place of learning for children.
Our elected leaders, in the coming hours, will issue the typical platitudes to those who have seen their loved ones gunned down in cold blood, telling them, “Our thoughts and prayers with you.” Then, if the pattern holds, they will immediately retreat into silence and refuse to engage in any meaningful debate about America’s catastrophically flawed gun laws, which directly facilitate one gun massacre after the next.
To people of conscience, this should not be acceptable. After Friday’s horror, Americans must demand immediate action by our President and Congress to reform our gun laws. This must include legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, strengthening those background checks (particularly in terms of mental health and substance abuse screening), and renewing the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. We expect President Obama—as a man who has seen first-hand the devastation that gun violence inflicts on families and communities during his time as a volunteer in Chicago—to be a leader in this process and to speak out boldly and directly.
If we’ve reached a point where our children cannot attend school without fear of being gunned down by a homicidal maniac who has obtained easy access to firearms, then the freedom we cherish as citizens of the world’s greatest democracy is at risk of extinction.
Twenty children were massacred in a kindergarten classroom on Friday. If elected officials cannot find their voices now and call for change—if NRA campaign contributions and threats continue to dictate their decision-making, taking priority over the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—what will it say about them?
Moreover, if we allow them to remain silent, what will it say about us?