As we celebrated our loved ones with chocolates, flowers and sometimes even pink cards with massive glitter this week, I can't help but also think of the families who are missing people due to gun violence -- and about the importance of making our communities safer for everyone.
To be blunt: Our nation can't wait any longer for common-sense gun laws.
More than once in the last 12 months, I've received a call that no parent ever wants to get from their school: A call saying that my children's school was in lock down because of a nearby threat.
The first time was in May when there was a shooting at a nearby cafe. The gunman had fled on foot. The second time was just last week when there was an armed bank robbery just blocks away.
My daughter is well-aware of the threat of gun violence and recently noted, "Mom -- remember: Both of our lock downs happened because of guns."
My son tapped me on the shoulder while I was driving him from basketball practice the other day to share this fact and important question: "In all the years since the assault weapon ban in Australia, there haven't been any mass shootings, which was a big improvement. Why don't we do that here?"
My kids aren't alone with this awareness.
Many of the more than one million members of MomsRising have also shared that they, and their children, worry about gun violence and that they desperately want safety in their schools and neighborhoods. And they've also shared that they support common-sense gun safety laws. Some of these MomsRising members are also members of the NRA, and we're hearing from moms across that nation that whether or not they personally own guns -- they are sick and tired of outdated gun safety laws that fail to protect our children and our communities.
Parents and kids know what's going on across the nation.
It's time for every member of Congress to not only know what's going on with real families outside the beltway, but also to take action.
The situation is dire.
Guns are the second leading cause of death in the U.S. among children ages 1 to 19.
These are children like the 20 young kids gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary school; and like Hadiya Pendleton, a young girl who was murdered in Chicago just days after she participated in the presidential inauguration.
Many of our nation's cities are plagued with a staggering number of daily gun-related tragedies which often aren't covered by the news media. In fact, the CDC reports that more than 30 people are murdered by guns every day in the United States, which means that in the last two months alone, our country has lost another 1,200 lives to gun violence, including brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and other loved ones.
This cannot become the new normal.
It's time to put kids and common sense first.
It's time to stand up to the gun lobby.
The voices of real moms and real people can be more powerful than any corporate funded lobbyists.
The time to act is now.
And what better time to start than valentine's week. Valentine's Day is the two-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy where 20 young children were gunned down in their classrooms.
And yesterday, on Valentine's Day MomsRising reached out to every member of Congress urging them to have a heart and quickly move forward safer gun policies.
To be clear: This isn't about banning all guns; this is about gun safety and responsibility, and making sure that weapons for mass killing aren't in public spaces or near our children.
Parents shouldn't have to hesitate, even slightly, wondering if our kids will be safe when we drop them off at school, the mall, or the movies.
It's time for solutions. And people are coming together to stand behind common-sense principles like:
- • Universal background checks for all gun purchases, including gun shows and on the Internet.
- • An assault weapon ban, which also limits high capacity magazines.
- • A federal gun trafficking statute with real penalties to stop the illegal sales of guns between state-to-state and international jurisdictions.
There are 85 million moms in our nation. Together, we are a powerful force. And together we won't let the leaders of our nation forget that their job is to make sure that our families, all of our valentines, and all of our nation's children are safe from gun violence.
The time to act is now.