By Teresa Welsh |
Nothing can right the terrible tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn. on Friday. When reportedly mentally ill shooter Adam Lanza slaughtered 26 Americans—including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7—with a Bushmaster assault rifle he caused emotional wounds that will never heal, no matter how much time passes. For those who lost their loved ones in the massacre, our Founders' original promise of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" must now seem like a cruel joke.
But while 26 precious lives have been lost to us forever, we can take decisive action to prevent the next tragedy from happening. President Barack Obama's bold promise on Sunday evening to use "whatever power [his] office holds" to end the scourge of mass shootings in our country marks the beginning of a bold new era in American gun politics.
In truth, it had begun before Newtown. We saw it when Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly used the guns on campus issue to win his race in Virginia's 11th Congressional District during the GOP "wave election" in 2010. We saw it when national outrage over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin led to more than 30 corporations leaving ALEC because of the organization's promotion of "stand your ground" laws. We saw it when former Rep. Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly read their incredible statement calling for responsible gun laws in an Arizona courtroom. We saw it when sportscaster Bob Costas—a man with no skin in the game—spoke out publicly about a destructive gun culture and then doubled down when challenged by right wing commentators.
Perhaps no sign was more telling, however, then the NRA's performance—or lack thereof—on Nov. 6, 2012. The NRA went "all in" in the 2012 election and emerged with nothing to show for it. They were unable to defeat President Obama; lost seven of eight Senate races in which they spent more than $100,000; and endorsed 17 of the 30 House incumbents who lost their races. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new Independence USA PAC sent a clear message to NRA lackeys that they now have a well-funded opponent to contend with.
A historic opportunity now lies before us to curb the gun violence destroying our families and communities. For the sake of future generations, let us hope our elected officials seize it. If the recent remarks by Sens. Joe Manchin and Mark Warner and Rep. John Yarmuth are a bellwether, they are well on their way.
About Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
John Lott Author of 'More Guns, Less Crime.'
Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America
John Hudak Fellow at the Brookings Institution
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner Cofounder and CEO of MomsRising