Within 48 hours of the terrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, a new campaign was launched called We Are Better Than This. It was based on the fundamental belief that we are better than a nation with mass shootings like the one in Aurora, Colorado, and better than the 32 gun murders that happen every day. By talking directly with Americans either through TV appearances, or our website WeAreBetterThanThis.org and its related Facebook page, the campaign provided a place where all Americans -- whether shocked and horrified by the tragedy in Aurora or living with the tragedy that occurs in our communities every day -- could come together. Our goal was to rise above partisan politics and have a respectful conversation about what we can do to make our nation the better, safer place we all want it to be. Then an amazing thing happened. A real conversation actually began.
Americans across the country and across the political spectrum began to speak up and join the conversation. Gun violence prevention advocates and NRA members are talking to one another about things we can do to prevent tragedies that don't infringe on the Second Amendment. People like Michael Gerson (George W. Bush's speech writer), Bill O'Reilly and Rupert Murdoch have talked about how it is time for sensible gun policy. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the recent majority opinion on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, has opened the door for a discussion of gun policy. Well-known Republican pollster Frank Luntz released a poll that shows that 74% of NRA members support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
Tens of thousands have signed petitions such as the one on WeAreBetterThanThis.org, demanding our elected officials show leadership in this conversation, stop playing politics and provide the American public with the solutions we deserve. Some elected officials have been listening -- and some have started to take action.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a long time advocate for sensible solutions to gun violence, has called on our nation's leaders to provide a plan and address the violence that is plaguing municipalities across the country everyday. And, just today, Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy introduced legislation that would make it harder for dangerous people to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition online.
But still, far too many of our elected officials are not listening to the undeniable outcry from the American public. President Obama and Governor Romney should offer real solutions -- substantive plans to address an issue that will claim more than 48,000 lives during the term of the next president unless we do something about it. Leaders of both parties have gone out of their way to avoid talking about the role that gun policies can play in making us a safer nation. They have been more than comfortable - too comfortable -- to announce that they don't expect to do anything about this national problem any time soon -- even though an overwhelming majority of their constituents support sensible gun control policies.
The conversation we're advancing on WeAreBetterThanThis.org shows just how ready the American public is to address gun violence. We want solutions that will save lives. We are willing to put aside our political differences to find them. We know we are better than this. Now we must hold our elected officials accountable to show that they are too.