After Aurora, Ban Assault Weapons Now
There’s a growing litany of places that we recite every time the images of another shooting rampage flood the news. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, now Aurora. These shootings make us contemplate how someone could carry out such violence -- leaving us grieving for the loss of life and the effects on the bereaved families who must cope with the senselessness of it all.
But we also need to ask: why are these shootings associated more and more often with huge arsenals of weapons in the perpetrators’ homes? And why assault weapons? Why is a weapon of war available to anyone in this country?
Assault weapons were at one time illegal for civilians to possess, similar, I suppose, to bombs, tanks, nuclear weapons (even small ones), landmines and grenades. There are no rational civilian uses for these weapons. They attack. They do not protect from violence or contain it once it has begun.
It’s bad enough that these weapons are accepted as a part of warfare. But it’s completely unacceptable that we should have to fear them on our streets, in our schools, in our shopping centers and in our theaters.
The U.S. used to ban these weapons. In 1994, Congress passed and President Clinton signed an assault weapons ban. But the legislation expired in 2004, and Congress hasn’t acted to renew it. Neither the House nor the Senate is willing to step forward and take this stand. Leaders in both chambers speak of sympathy, but not of strategy. Both parties wring their hands and decry the violence, but not the votes that have kept gun violence off the political agenda.
FCNL invites you to join a call-in day for people of faith tomorrow, Wednesday, August 1. Our hope is to add some courage, clarity and commitment to Congress’s response to this latest tragedy.
The participating groups are concentrating the calls on
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) at 1-888-427-0484 and
Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH) at 1-888-427-0480.
We are focusing on the House and Senate leadership to urge them to make public safety a priority and to put an end to senseless and unnecessary gun violence. We are focusing on enacting a strong and effective ban on assault weapons.You can say something like:
"As a [Quaker, person of faith] concerned about peace and public safety, I urge [Speaker Boehner or Leader Reid] to do all he can to end senseless gun violence such as happened in Aurora, Colorado. This can begin now by a strong and effective ban on assault weapons."
On this call, we’re just trying to tell Congress that the majority of the people in the U.S. want action to prevent gun violence. We’re not trying to persuade anyone of the facts. But here are some facts you may wish to know or remember:
- Among high-income populous countries, the United States accounts for 80 percent of all firearm deaths, including 86 percent of women killed by firearms, and 87 percent of children under the age of 14 killed by firearms.
- When the assault weapons ban was in place from 1994-2004, there was a 66% drop in the use of assault weapons in crimes.
- Since the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Gifford and 18 others in Tucson, Arizona early last year, there have been 60 mass shootings.
- Preventable gun violence drains our country of $100 billion every year in medical, criminal justice, and security costs.