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John Rosenthal Headshot

We Are to Blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre

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We are all struggling to understand why such a horrific tragedy could befall 20 innocent six and seven year old children and their caregivers at an elementary school in America. Any thinking person has to wonder, how is it possible that anyone would senselessly gun down twenty beautiful children and their teachers with a military style assault rifle equipped with a high capacity ammunition clip designed for war. To make this massacre even worse, the U.S. made Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon and large magazine is specifically designed to kill as many people as possible before having to reload and the .223 caliber ammunition is engineered for maximum soft tissue damage in the human body. As the facts of the unthinkable massacre two weeks ago in Newtown, Connecticut unfold, we have learned that the innocent children and teachers were each shot 3-11 times with this horrific killing machine that we, all of us, are responsible for making readily available in America.

To fully comprehend how such a tragedy could occur in Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, or any town in America, look in the mirror. When was the last time you called or wrote your elected officials in your State House or in Washington? When have you told your legislators, members of Congress (202-224-2131) and president (202-456-1111) that you do or don't approve of their votes? When have you told your elected officials that state and national gun policy, designed to maximize unrestricted gun access without detection is unacceptable and puts all of us at immense and unecessary risk? When have you taken responsibility for the safety of your children, family members and neighbors? When have you held your politicians accountable for their irresponsible actions and inactions related to national gun policies?

Make no mistake about it, we have allowed our Congress to make military assault weapons, hundred round ammunition clips and easily concealed handguns readily available to anyone including kids, criminals, the mentally ill and even gang members, drug lords and international terrorist groups, without detection in the United States of America -- the gun violence capital of the developed world. There isn't even a national criminal background check requirement for all gun sales in the U.S. As a result, in 33 states, at thousands of gun shows and from millions of houses, car trunks and backpacks every year, anyone can legally purchase an unlimited number of deadly firearms and even grenade launchers, from "private gun dealers" without a criminal background check, proof of ID or detection.

How could anyone of us be surprised that innocent children and adults could be massacred with assault weapons and concealed handguns at Sandy Hook Elementary School or at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado or a university at Virginia Tech or at countless high schools and shopping malls across America. The deadly list of mass shootings has grown at an average rate of three per month since Congresswomen Gabby Giffords and 18 others were shot in Tucson, just two years ago. Every day in America, more than 200 people are shot and 87 die, including 8 children, from largely preventable gun violence. A classroom is emptied every three days from gun violence and, based on yearly averages, just since the Newtown, Connecticut massacre two weeks ago, more than 110 kids under 19 years old and a total of 1,100 Americans have died from guns in the U.S.

We, all of us, have a role to play in reducing senseless gun violence. We, all of us, must take responsibility for the safety of our children. We must hold our irresponsible and negligent elected officials accountable for the all too common carnage resulting from their actions allowing unrestricted access to ever more deadly firearms.

Gun violence in America is a public health crisis that can be easily solved without banning most guns. The solutions to most gun violence are relatively simple if politicians were willing to prioritize public safety over their own political self-interest and special interest gun industry campaign contributions. Imagine if hamburgers or tainted medication killed 87 Americans including eight children every day. Do you really think Congress would not immediately and aggressively hold meat packers or pharmaceutical companies responsible? How long do you think these industries would continue to be unregulated, as is the case with the gun industry? Unlike toy guns, teddy bears and every other consumer product, only the gun industry is uniquely unregulated by the National Consumer Product Safety Commission and only the gun industry has been given absolute immunity from lawsuits by Congress.

Look no further than urban industrial Massachusetts, and you'll find the practical solutions to the majority of gun violence in America. Massachusetts has enacted the most effective gun laws, consumer protection standards for the gun industry and support for law enforcement in the nation. Gun owners, dealers, manufacturers and law enforcement are held accountable and responsible for their actions. Gun owners must undergo criminal background checks, training and licensing before purchasing a firearm and guns must be registered and stored safely unless under the gun owners direct control. All gun dealers must run criminal background checks and operate out of bonafide stores separate from homes, car trunks and pack packs. Gun manufacturers, including Springfield based Smith and Wesson, the largest handgun maker in the U.S., must build minimum safety features into their products and they cannot legally market to directly to criminals, as is currently allowed in the U.S. Finally, law enforcement has been made an ally vs. the enemy of gun rights, and they are supported vs. denigrated as first responders responsible for all of our safety.

If Congress wanted to break the deadly cycle of gun violence in America and reduce vs. increase gun access, gun violence, fear, more gun sales, gun industry profits and more blood money campaign contributions, the solutions are available for all to see in Massachusetts. If only Congress and the president would stand up vs. shrink under special interest money and pressure. It's politics, cowards in Congress and our lack of involvement in our democracy, that is killing 30,000 Americans including 3,000 of our children every year from gun violence. We must face reality. The Republican party is owned by the special interest NRA and gun industry and Democrats are intimidated into submission. This won't change unless we change and get involved.

It's our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable or we must replace them with someone, one of us, who will put public safety over private self interest. As long as we allow national gun policy to be dictated by special interest groups and their puppets in Congress, the innocent children massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the over 100,000 kids killed since 1980 from gun violence in American, will have died vain. Our children deserve better and shame on us for not doing more to protect them.