We’ve all been exhausted by images of smiling five year-old faces plastered across the news, only to be reminded that these were the hopeful and innocent faces that were caught in the crossfire of spewing bullets, shot from a weapon of mass destruction that releases three bullets per second.
It should not have taken 26 more lives for the topic of gun violence to come into the national discourse, but at least it seemed that progress was being made when President Obama released his nonpartisan plan that consisted of common sense solutions to reduce gun violence.
I wholeheartedly agree with the representatives who say that this issue is not one of politics, but one of safety. An assault weapon ban would take military style guns off the street, but would not infringe on any Second Amendment rights. And neither would requiring a background check for all gun purchases that takes less than five minutes to complete.
Last Thursday, the Senate voted against expanding background checks with just six votes short of approval.
The failing of this bill comes down to cowardice. The gun lobby was able to intimidate Senators to vote against a bill that would undoubtedly save lives of innocent individuals by monitoring who is eligible to buy a gun and who isn’t.
Our President recognizes that one piece of legislation could not save an entire country’s future, but if it could save even one child’s life, would it not be worth it?
In hearing that comprehensive background checks are supported by 90% of Americans and even by 74% of NRA members, I really never even considered that it would not pass through Congress. Obama hit it head on in saying that if not the American people, “Who are [the members of Congress] here to represent?”
It was indeed “a shameful day for Washington,” especially for those Senators who publicly came out in support of the background check legislation. Senator Jeff Flake even wrote a letter to a mother who lost her child in the Aurora shooting saying, “While we may not agree on every solution, strengthening background checks is something we can agree on.” He then turned around to vote against it.
If the families of Newtown have the courage to get up in the morning and keep fighting for their children who lost their lives at the hands of a mentally unstable individual, the least our Senators can do is have that same courage and decency to vote for something that would work to benefit every American, regardless of their politics.
Although the immense amount of power and support the gun lobby possesses may have prolonged progress on the issue for now, this legislative battle is far from over. With an overwhelmingly high consensus for urgent change, something must be done. As President Obama said, “The memories of these children demand it, and so do the American people.”