There are always seminal moments which are seared in our memories. The gun massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. is one such moment. While the horrific massacre of 20 innocent children and six heroic teachers in Newtown might only be the latest in a constant stream of gun violence which claims the lives of thousands every year, it was the spark which has galvanized people from across the country to seek an end to the violence in a way no other event has.
Following the tragedy, President Barack Obama made a statement vowing to pursue common sense solutions to America’s epidemic of gun violence.
“As a country, we have been through this too many times,” the president said. “Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago—these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.”
Today, over 100,000 people are shot every year including over 18,000 children and teens. These facts make one thing clear: something must be done to change the status quo.
Obviously, well-meaning individuals bring varying perspectives and solutions to ebb the plague of gun violence. However, for religious people including Adventists, opposing the sale and proliferation of military-style weaponry in our communities should be a no-brainer. After all, the only time Jesus speaks on the topic is when he tells Peter to not act in self defense.
In the words of President Obama: “We're going to have to come together, and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Fortunately, Americans of every stripe are coming together to demand a sensible gun policy. A White House petition demanding that President Obama propose a plan to prevent gun violence quickly became the website’s most popular petition as #DemandAPlan (a hashtag demanding a plan to stop gun violence begun by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomburg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns) trended on twitter.
Meanwhile, residents of Newtown Connecticut including families of victims created the ‘Sandy Hook Promise’ asking Americans to promise to “honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School” and “encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.”
President Obama has responded to public outcry by announcing a plan to reduce gun violence while respecting the rights of the vast majority of gun owners who are law abiding and use their guns safely. His plan, which included recommendations from a task force of stakeholders led by Vice President Joe Biden, is a common-sense proposal that congress should pass promptly.
As part of his plan, the president is calling on congress to close loopholes that allow the sale of guns without background checks and begin requiring background checks for all gun purchases while strengthening the background check system to make it more effective. The plan also supports a new, stronger ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. It also calls on congress to ban possession of armor-piercing bullets to anyone other than law enforcement and the military.
If passed in full, the president’s plan will be an invaluable step towards making American’s safer and honoring the memories of those murdered by guns in Newtown and other shootings across the country.
This is a plan everyone should support.
Because this time, it must be different.
Giovanni Hashimoto is president of College Democrats at Pacific Union College. An honors student, he is in the history/pre-law program and is the features editor of the Campus Chronicle.