Topic of the Talk: What can we do About Gun Violence?
“If not now, when?” “If not you, who?” These are some of the questions we need to ask about preventing gun violence. There are 32,000 gun deaths per year, 89 gun deaths a day in the U.S. One half of those deaths are suicides. While the mass shootings (4 or more people) get most of the attention, gun deaths which don’t get the press coverage are much more common.
The Brady Campaign wants to keep guns out of the wrong hands and stop gun tragedies. Is gun violence prevention reaching a tipping point and passing over the threshold? President Obama rolled out executive orders to regulate guns. He gave a speech in which he acknowledged the 2nd Amendment as the law of the land. He then named the victims of gun violence. He also acknowledged that the Declaration of Independence guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If you sell firearms you need to get a license and do a background check.
The president’s executive action was good, but he didn’t close the private gun show loophole. The problem with executive actions is that they are only as good as the president and will not last if the next president is a Republican.
There are myths which are used to justify the lack of gun regulations including: criminals won’t obey gun laws; “a good guy with a gun is the answer”; It’s a mental health issue; the 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct, though Heller never says this; “Obama wants to take our guns!!”; current gun laws need to be enforced.
Background checks save lives – we’ve reduced gun violence by half in California. We can cut gun deaths in half in the U.S. by 2025. What can we do? Mr. Bartram gave us “homework” a list of actions items including: supporting representatives and asking for their support on gun violence prevention legislation, contact Lt. Governor Newsom to support his initiative, join organizations including the Brady Campaign and Everytown for Gun Safety, participate in GVP outreach programs, get your mayor to support the fight against illegal guns, send letters to the editor, wear orange, submit and support Attorney General Loretta Lynch Letter and read supporting documents concerning GVP issues.
Steve Bartram is the Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito (UUFSD) and is a member of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He coordinates the San Diego area participation in the National Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence held annually on the Sabbath Weekend Against Gun Violence sponsored by the Newtown Foundation, Faiths United Against Gun Violence, and this year Everytown Against Gun Violence.