One person that I have been following on Twitter since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day this year, is Fred Guttenberg. As a new dad, I can’t begin to imagine what his life has been like since his daughter, Jaime, was murdered in her school. What kind of society cannot protect students from being massacred inside their own classrooms ? What kind of society doesn’t change after 38,658 citizens lost their lives from a bullet in 2016?
Back in the year 2000, as a college sophomore, I was held up at gun point outside a popular bar in Miami Beach, Florida. I was one split second away from getting my brains blown out in the sand for 5 bucks. Countless friends and family across this country have shared similar experiences with me. We are all so incredibly lucky that we didn’t end up in the statistic above.
If there is one good thing to come from these heinous mass shootings at schools, houses of worship, and nightclubs, it may be that they are raising awareness for this horrific national public health crisis, gun violence. I believe most of us can agree that the status quo is not acceptable. So what is the solution ? Do we need more guns in the hands of armed guards, or less guns in the hands of civilians by making them much harder to buy ?
The politicians make us believe the answer is one or the other, but in fact, we probably need both. The N.R.A. line is that we need more armed guards (which is their way of ensuring that gun sales receipts continue to soar), but in a country where there are already nearly 400 MILLION guns in the hands of civilians and where the majority of gun deaths are not from mass shootings, but homicides and suicides, it is unrealistic to have an armed guard in every location in which a shooting is possible.
To be clear, the goal is not to stop mass shootings, but rather ALL shootings. So how do we drastically reduce the number of shootings in the U.S. ? There is no panacea but certainly part of the solution is to drastically reduce the number of guns in the U.S. This will be the fastest way to decrease the body count. It worked in Australia and it will work here.
So why are no politicians doing it ?
This has to do mainly with the power of the N.R.A, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of campaign contributions to advocate for more guns and more armed guards. Approximately 98% of their contributions in 2016 went to Republicans, including $30m to Donald Trump and $1m to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. In most countries, this would be considered corruption but in the U.S. we call it by a euphemism, campaign finance.
What I want to know is which politician has a plan to reduce the number of guns in the US to 40,000 instead of the 400,000,000 number we’re approaching today? Which politician will understand that the 2nd amendment can and must be amended or simply re-interpreted for the safety of our children ?
These are the politicians that must win the future.
In the meantime, for the safety of my friends, family, and for the victims of gun violence, I pledge to only vote for politicians who take ZERO dollars from the N.R.A. AND commit to enacting gun control. Take it from Fred who was not active politically at all until his daughter was murdered at her school. We need gun control now — — or the next innocent victim could be you, me or someone we love.