I remember where I was when I heard about Sandy Hook, one of the most horrifying occurrences in this country in my lifetime. And I remember the panic I felt thinking of my son, Sam, who was six and sitting in his first grade classroom. And I remember lingering at his school for days afterwards when I would drop him off, barely able to let him go. I realized that the issue of guns would be one I would spend the rest of my life working on.
When pretty much anyone can get a military-style assault weapon with ease, including home grown terrorists and individuals with an agenda of hate so severe they kill, the horror of gun violence doesn’t end, even as the public becomes more and more desperate that it does.
And Wisconsinites are desperate that gun violence end and common sense measures be adopted. In a January Marquette poll, 85.3% of Wisconsinites indicated they support universal background checks for gun purchases, with strong support in every corner of our state. And 65% of Wisconsinites want to keep concealed guns off school grounds.
Republican policy makers insist that guns make us safer. If that were the case, the U.S., with the most civilian gun ownership in the world, would be the safest country among industrialized nations. Instead, we are the most deadly by far. And a gun owner has a far bigger risk that their gun will accidentally kill someone they love than ever save a life.
Less than a week after Senator Murphy’s filibuster, U.S. Senate Republicans voted against the most common of gun safety measures – restricting individuals on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms and enhancing background checks. Congressman Paul Ryan wouldn’t even allow a vote to come to the House floor after a 17 hour sit in by Democrats. These actions prove once and for all just how strong the death grip of the NRA is. When elected officials are more beholden to the NRA than the people they represent, they don’t deserve to be in elected office.
Praying for the devastated families isn’t enough to stop gun violence. It’s not enough when gun violence claims 89 lives every day in our country, including 7 children. It’s not enough when 52 women each month are gunned down by their intimate partners. It’s not enough when there has been 186 school shootings on school campuses since Sandy Hook.
Enough talk. It’s time for action.