The following op-ed appeared in the January 31, 2013 issue of the Campus Chronicle, the student newspaper at Pacific Union College.
There are always formative moments that 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 teachers in Newtown might only be the latest in a constant stream of gun violence, it was the spark that 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.”
Obviously, well-meaning individuals bring varying perspectives and solutions to ebb the plague of gun violence. One thing is clear, however. Something must be done. We cannot condone a system that leads to an average of over 100,000 people being shot every year, including over 18,000 children and teens.
“We’re going to have to come together,” the president added, “and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
The president is not alone. Americans of every stripe are coming together and demanding sensible solutions. A White House petition demanding that President Obama propose a plan to prevent gun violence quickly became Twitter’s most popular petition, as the #DemandAPlan campaign trended in the world of tweets.
Meanwhile, residents of Newtown, Conn., 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 commonsense 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. 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.
The president’s plan goes much further than can be described here. If it is passed in full, it will be an invaluable step towards making Americans safer and honoring the memories of those murdered in Newtown and other shootings across the country.
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. He blogs at http://www.giovanihashimoto.com