We are honored that the White House has invited us to witness President Obama taking executive action on January 5 to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country.
While waiting at the airport to board our plane bound for DC, CNN broadcast responses from Republican presidential contenders, complete with all the typical NRA false rhetoric. This includes the canard that "criminals won't follow the law." This is akin to saying, "Take no preventive action to address the public health crisis caused by guns in the wrong hands."
This battle is personal for us. Our precious, beautiful, 24-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was slaughtered in the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre along with 11 others on July 20, 2012. Seventy more people were wounded. Many of them will continue to suffer for the rest of their young lives with horrific pain -- both emotional and physical.
Yes, this is personal. So we refuse to sit by and do nothing. So we fight for common-sense measures so that others will not suffer the same anguish that we suffer each and every day.
Five months after the Aurora theater massacre, the massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, took center stage. And we have been working for years with other gun violence prevention activists who are beating back the NRA and passing laws at the state level because a do-nothing Congress refuses to act.
Even with 90 percent of Americans supporting expanded Brady background checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people -- like felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers -- our Congressional leaders still cower in the lap of the NRA. Congressional delays despite overwhelming public support for expanded background checks -- even amongst 85 percent of gun owners! -- represent a total failure to protect public health by keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
Hearing the likes of presidential wannabes, such as Donald Trump, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (who takes great pride in having a close relationship with Gun Owners of America, an extremist group that has called for armed revolt) rant about reversing President Obama's Executive Orders if elected should make everyone in America ask, "Faced with an epidemic of gun violence, why are some presidential contenders so dead-set against saving lives?"
The answer would be that they are craven lap dogs cowering before the NRA and caving in to donors such as the Koch Brothers whose agenda is to radicalize the middle and lower classes that feel disenfranchised.
Let's also look at the so-called "patriots" who have just taken over a federal building in Oregon. These are angry white men trespassing on public property, waving guns around at innocent people, claiming that their actions are righteous instead of domestic terrorism.
There they are, occupying a federal building fully loaded with their assault-style weapons, itching for a fight with our nation's government. That is not what real democracy in action looks like. No, instead democracy looks like President Obama listening to the will of 90 percent of Americans, including the 85 percent of gun owners who want to take common-sense actions like expanding Brady background checks to keep more guns out of dangerous hands.
Since Sandy Hook, six states -- most recently, Oregon, the center of today's militia confrontation -- have passed background checks on all gun sales, including guns sold online and at gun shows.
President Obama's Executive Actions will address online sales. Most Americans assume background checks are done on all weapon sales, but that is not true. Many online sales and gun show sales -- as much as 40 percent of all guns sold -- do not require background checks. In fact, we sued the online sellers of the military grade ammunition that made it possible for the killer in Aurora to carry out his massacre. The ammunition is designed to penetrate walls and theater seats and was sold without even checking the buyer's driver's license or asking for a verifying ID.
Anyone, a domestic or international terrorist, a felon, a fugitive, or a domestic abuser can purchase this military grade ammunition as well as guns by walking into a gun show or going online, in many cases with no questions asked.
That is why the tide has turned. America is sick of the continued rhetoric of the gun lobby and the 33,000 American lives claimed yearly by guns. President Obama recognizes that THIS is the time. THIS is the moment. That is why the president is requiring more gun sellers -- especially those who do business online and at gun shows -- to be licensed and to conduct Brady background checks on potential buyers.
We believe that America should applaud the bravery of President Obama to do take Executive Actions to address the epidemic of gun violence when Congress would not.
The president, in reviewing his Executive Actions in the White House on January 4 with U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey, said Congressional inaction following an increasing number of mass shootings and other gun-related violence justified his decision.
He has taken the moral high ground when they would not. He has listened to the American people who are crying out for the carnage to stop when Congress would not. He has decided to be on the right side of history when others would not. He has decided to save lives when other leaders would not. He understands that gun violence is a public health issue when others do not. He understands that these Executive Actions do not infringe on our Second Amendment rights.
He is a man to be applauded and we do so. We give you a standing ovation. Thank you, Mr. President.