On behalf of all who are associated with
The Peace Alliance, I want to express our heartfelt condolences and
prayers to all the victims, survivors, family, and friends who must
endure the unspeakable tragedy that happened on Friday. What happened,
and to whom it happened, is impossible to comprehend.
As you know, The Peace Alliance, since 2004, has devoted its efforts and
its resources to the challenge of changing the way individuals,
communities, and countries respond to conflict and crises,
internationally and here at home. We have educated, advocated, trained,
lobbied, and mobilized our expanding multi-generational grassroots
network on behalf of saner foreign policies and the application of
alternative, nonviolent, non-punitive approaches to resolving problems.
The murders in Newtown are but the latest examples of how violence
affects our lives and punishes innocent victims with no logical
explanation or rationale. And, what did it accomplish?
A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined. Every one of those nations has stricter gun control laws.
And then there's this fact: add together all the gun deaths in the 23 wealthiest countries in the world and 80 percent of those are American deaths. Of all the children killed by guns in those nations, 87 percent are American kids.
Violence is manifested in many ways and guns are but one of many
instruments used to perpetrate it. Yet, surely, we can’t still deny that
in America the availability and nature of guns and ammunition play a
significant and avoidable role in the harm and pain being inflicted upon
too many individuals and communities.
This issue is not something I speak of from afar. I was born and
brought up in Connecticut and know the Newtown Region well. Personally,
I have been touched by violence. We lost a daughter to violent murder
some 17 years ago, which remains unsolved. Life goes on, but she is
always in my thoughts, especially today. And, in the thoughts of the
two small children she left behind.
Yesterday, the President spoke eloquently
and emotionally for the country to express our sadness, sympathy, and
prayers to the people of Newtown. He talked about the need finally to
do something meaningful to address this gun related event. Afterward, I
was struck by the words of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York, whose
husband was shot to death, and son wounded, on a New York subway more
than 10 years ago. She noted something the President said that now was
not the time to talk about gun control. She said she agreed. Now was
not the time to discuss gun control, it was long before these innocent
children, their teachers, and their families became victims of another
mass murder. And, she is right. How many more Newtowns, Columbines,
Auroras, Sikh temples, and Oregon Malls will it take for our elected
representatives to say, “Enough is Enough”?
Now is the time for these leaders to enter
into meaningful dialogue and, more importantly, to take action. There
are many issues we need to address beyond gun-control, and we will do
so. But one thing we should do right now is re-institute the assault
weapons ban, limit large capacity ammunition clips, require
comprehensive background checks on all weapons sales, particularly those
through gun shows and over the internet, and stop cutting funding for
needed mental health and social service programs.
None of these steps would in any way
prevent serious sportsmen, hunters, or collectors from obtaining
firearms for their enjoyment. Believe it or not, it wouldn’t even deter
people truly concerned with protecting themselves from possessing
What will it take to make this happen? Us.
The President needs to lead the way. But, given the lack of action
taken by Congress on this issue in the past, the only way legislators
will listen is if enough of their constituents tell them to do so. We
need to get involved -- call, write, petition, and, perhaps, even
protest, until Congress listens.
It may not be easy, but if Congress hasn’t concluded enough is enough,
certainly, most Americans have. We can’t stand idly by and let more of
our neighbors or more of our children, grandchildren, sisters, and
brothers be massacred, as they were in Newtown. Please join us in
mitigating this tragedy and bringing about a more peaceful society.
Bob Baskin, President
The Peace Alliance
P.O. Box 27601, Washington, DC 20038 | Phone: 202-684-2553