Monday, December 17, 2012

A message from the Peace Alliance

The Senseless Tragedy in Newtown, CT
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Dear Supporter,
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 “sufficient” weaponry.
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.
Thank you.

Bob Baskin, President       
Twitter The Peace Alliance
P.O. Box 27601, Washington, DC 20038 | Phone: 202-684-2553

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