The United States Senate's failure to pass common sense gun safety measures -- the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks to keep guns away from underage or dangerous people, and amendments to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines designed only to kill as many human beings as possible -- is a moral failure of great magnitude. Once again the safety of children has been sacrificed by political leaders in service to the gun lobby. As Americans do we value guns more than the lives of children? Do we really want to continue to have political leaders who kowtow to the threats and money and half-truths of the gun lobby and who think their political jobs are more important than the right of children to live and learn and grow up in safety?
The psychological and emotional toll of gun violence on bystanders, victims, and families can be overwhelming and leaves effects that last for years. What about the costs we can count? In addition to the trauma that is so deep and pervasive that it is harder to quantify, there are actual costs to gun violence that can be measured and are enormous.
The heartrending massacre of 20 6- and 7-year-old children and six educators in Newtown, Conn., has galvanized public attention once again after a mass shooting. But the killing of children by gun violence is not new. In 2013, as we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the dream of our gun-slain prophet of nonviolence, let us truly hear and follow rather than just celebrate him. Now is the time to free ourselves from the plague of gun violence which has taken over 1.3 million American lives since Dr. King and Robert Kennedy's assassinations in 1968. This is twice the loss of life than all American battle casualties in all the major wars we have fought since our nation began.