12/20/2012 04:54 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

It's Time for the NRA to Come to the Table

I was stunned and sick to my stomach -- and as a mother, I was horrified -- when I learned about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

It's appropriate that while we grieve for the students, faculty, and their families, that we've also begun a long-overdue discussion of how to prevent this kind of tragedy. The constitutional right to own guns is not the issue here. The issue is commonsense laws that respect that right, but prevent the mass slaughter of innocent Americans.

But as we start work on banning assault weapons and limiting the number of rounds in magazines -- both commonsense proposals that I strongly support -- too many members of Congress worry about their "score" from the National Rifle Association. The NRA grades senators and representatives based on their votes on gun issues -- and even on issues that have little-to-nothing to do with guns.

Well, I'm a former Jackson County prosecutor who's seen gun violence. And more importantly, I'm a mom and a grandmother. And I'm delivering a message to the NRA this week: Come to the table to prevent this from happening ever again.

Emerging from the tragedy in Newtown, the NRA has an opportunity to lead. An opportunity to come to the table, be a constructive partner, and make its voice a part of the solution to prevent mass murders of innocent children.

But it's their choice. Silence from the NRA will be a clear signal that they don't want meaningful change.

That's why I've started a petition, calling on the NRA to come out of hiding, and come to the table (Click here to sign it now).

Respecting the Second Amendment does not mean abandoning common sense. The right to own guns in this country must remain, while we also must strengthen our laws to prevent mass shootings. Now, I'm calling on the NRA to use its considerable political influence to help us accomplish those goals.

Because to solve this problem, we need all parties at the table.