Gun Violence in America Must Cease

Ordinarily, during an election year, I feel passionate about electing the most qualified candidate. This year is more important than previous elections. This year, we are at a fork in the road. Making the appropriate, most obvious decision is imperative as it affects our lives, our children’s lives, and the lives of our neighbors.  In my opinion, this is the most important election in my lifetime. The issues are serious: the economy, education, healthcare, ISIS, inherent racism, equal pay, etc. The list goes on and on, but no issue is more pervasive than Guns in America.

This election cycle is our opportunity to let the gun lobby know that we’re all on to the fact that they’re using money from firearms manufacturers to buy politicians who are either so weak in character that they’ll knowingly degrade laws meant to protect American lives or who do not care about us. Those politicians are Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and, his pal, Matt Gaetz.

We, the 85% of Americans that support background checks across the board, must stand up. Let the NRA-owned politicians know that with daily mass shootings, lockdown drills in elementary schools, shoot-first mentality, then nothing but “thoughts and prayers” in response — that there is a movement brewing.

All across this nation, including Florida, there are millions of advocates for gun sense who are actively taking on the gun lobby, namely the NRA, and winning — just like they did in Georgia and Louisiana. And no, this isn’t just about gun “control,” which is why we don’t use that word.  It is about common-sense gun laws that do not infringe on anyone’s second amendment rights. It’s just COMMON SENSE.

While volunteering for a leading force for gun violence prevention, I have heard from local and senatorial candidates and fellow North Floridians that support life-saving, common sense gun measures but are afraid to say so in the light of day. Change begins with our elected officials.

Help me put Trump, Rubio, and Gaetz on notice.  Gun sense is winning.  We have to elect gun sense candidates to office that do not have an A+ rating and take money from the NRA.  Extremists in the state legislature have introduced a handful of bills last year that would expand “Stand Your Ground” and put guns on campuses. These bills were eventually tabled, but, make no mistake about it, they will come up again and, if passed, will devastate Florida.

Haven’t we learned anything, Florida? Between Travon Martin, Jordan Davis, and the Pulse nightclub massacre, we have had our share of national incidences that should have taught us a lesson: Current legislation is not working.

And, let me just say this, because gun extremists don’t get it, NOBODY WANTS TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY!!!! We want everyone to pass a background check with every gun purchase. We want to close gun show and online gun sale loopholes. If a person is too dangerous to be allowed to fly on a commercial airliner (they’re on the No-Fly list), why are they allowed to go to a gun show and buy an assault rifle without any inquiry into that person’s background?

We also want everyone to store their firearms appropriately and we want the current laws to be enforced. Did you know that Florida leads the nation in teen suicide by guns taken from their parents? Did you know that according to the CDC, Florida has more gun related deaths than the national average? Why haven’t we learned and acted to correct these problems. It is common sense.

This year, we’ve seen guns become a staple of political campaigns at all levels.  It is no longer the political third rail.  In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton knows we have to move on sensible gun legislation, while Trump talks about shooting people in the middle of Fifth Avenue. As for the senatorial race, Patrick Murphy calls Florida’s gun problem an epidemic, while Marco Rubio voted against a bill, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting that would have prevented people on the no-fly list from purchasing a gun. Then, in the race for the House of Representatives, there is Matt Gaetz; the worst of them all. He has spent the majority of his time introducing “open-carry” legislation, as opposed to the millions of other issues he should devote his time to. On his Facebook page he posted an article about his fellow republican, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, and said “Anti-Gun liberals are bankrolling the guy who killed my open carry legislation. I’ll fight these special interests with all I have.” Well Matt, you are in for the fight of your life because we will not quit.

If our leaders continue to cower in fear of the gun lobby and persistently refuse to support the common-sense measures their constituents want and need, they should be replaced.  And, if their whole position on guns revolves around NRA-backed catch phrases and fear rhetoric, they should never be considered for office in the first place.   Gun sense is a women’s issue.  It is an economic-justice issue.  It is a race issue.  It is an LGBTQ issue.  It’s everyone’s issue.

That’s why I will vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s why I will vote for Patrick Murphy. That’s why I will vote for Steven Specht. These candidates have gun sense and, when the election is over, I will hold their feet to the fire, because we deserve a better, safer Florida for our children, our neighbors, and ourselves.

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