This is a statement from Mary Rita Luecke, written on Feb. 15, the day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting rampage in Florida, demanding action on basic, commonsense measures to prevent additional gun-violence slaughters. Mary Rita is candidate for the 17th legislative district in the March 20 Democratic Primary election. More information is available at Maryritaforstaterep.com and Facebook.
I'm the mother of two adult daughters. My heart aches for the families of those killed and wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. Just as my heart ached for all those who died or were maimed and traumatized in prior shootings. And, sadly, will for those tragedies yet to come.
But I also know in my heart that we need to do something to solve this problem. Because just thoughts and prayers about victims of gun violence doesn't seem to be working.
Our children have every right to expect that the schools we send them to every day are safe so they can grow and learn without fear of slaughter.
The tragedy of the school shooting in Parkland is unacceptable in a civilized society. From Sandy Hook in 2012 to the beginning of this month, there have been at least 1,598 mass shootings in America, with at least 1,812 people killed and 6,420 wounded. Either we stop these frequent massacres or we have to admit that we are not living in a civilized society.
Yet from Congress to states to local governments, our leaders are paralyzed. We have no new approaches, policies, laws or enforcement efforts to show for all of the sympathy and hand wringing.
This paralysis defies common sense. If our children were killed in a bus crash, from contaminated water, a disease outbreak, or any other cause, we would want to protect them with every available resource. (Of course, we even fail at that, as the families from Flint, Michigan, would quickly remind us.) Like any public health crisis, contagion spreads until there’s a comprehensive intervention.
Here are basic common-sense measures that will help us avoid more of these slaughters.
- We need bans on assault weapons, bump stocks, and high-capacity magazines.
- We should require background checks on every gun purchase. No loopholes for gun shows and private sales.
- We need a Connecticut-style law that allows family members or other interested individuals to seek a court order temporarily removing guns from individuals found to be a danger to themselves or others.
- Manufacturers of bullets should share in ameliorating the downstream costs of their products. A proposal to impose an excise tax on bullets makes sense. Every year, arms makers sell 12 billion bullets in the United States. A $2 per bullet tax would raise $24 billion. That would go a long way to help schools keep our children safe. It would also provide a fund for treatment of victims of gun violence.
- Increase research into “smart guns” that fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered or if used near a linked “bracelet.”
- Increase support for mental health professionals who can attend to the emotional and behavioral needs of children and adults who may be threats to themselves or others. All too often we can identify such an individual but offer no resources to assist them.
Inaction aids and abets the weapons industry and those who turn guns on innocent children.
I'm done with thoughts and prayers. We need solutions. And we need them now.