The United States Senate’s failure to pass common sense gun safety measures – the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks to keep guns away from underage or dangerous people, and amendments to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines designed only to kill as many human beings as possible — is a moral failure of great magnitude.
Once again, the safety of children has been sacrificed by political leaders in service to the gun lobby. As Americans do we value guns more than the lives of children?
Do we really want to continue to have political leaders who kowtow to the threats and money and half-truths of the gun lobby and who think their political jobs are more important than the right of children to live and learn and grow up in safety?
The fight to protect children, not guns is not over because 90 percent of Americans want a universal background check. This includes 94 percent of North Dakota voters, 89 percent of Indiana voters, 89 percent of New Hampshire voters, 84 percent of Arkansas voters, and 79 percent of Montana voters – all states where at least one senator went against the will of their constituents and of the American people.
Getting 90 percent of Americans to agree on anything is extremely difficult.
Who’s in charge?
No one elected the National Rifle Association to be in charge of our children’s and our nation’s safety. We have elected federal, state, and local governments, a national defense department, and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to perform this crucial function.
We must lift our voices and use our votes to protect children over guns.
Lies and misinformation must not rule the day in a democratic society. The NRA claimed that the Manchin-Toomey Amendment would prevent people from transferring guns to relatives and lead to a gun registry. Neither is true.
The NRA may have won the first round by spreading lies and confusion, but they must not and will not win in the end. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “However difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because ‘truth crushed to earth will rise again.’ How long? Not long, because ‘no lie can live forever.’”
Our children have a right to grow up in a caring and decent society that protects their right to live and learn in safety. That right must take precedence over anyone’s right to own assault weapons or high capacity magazines that have nothing to do with self-defense or hunting and have no place in the hands of non-military and non-law enforcement personnel.
Without these weapons of war applied to our children, how many would be alive today? How many Newtown or Aurora or Columbine victims would have survived?
War against children
There have been 166,562 children and teens who have died since 1965 from guns on American soil, while 52,280 U.S. soldiers were killed in action in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined.
We must stop this relentless war against our children and dethrone the NRA whose reign obstructs what 90 percent of Americans want.
Some of our Senators have just told us that they don’t care what 90 percent of us want and have closed their ears to the pleas of those who have lost their children and family members to gun violence. But we must be determined and persistent fleas until we move them either to change their minds or kick them out of office.
Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund. For more information, go to www.childrensdefense.org.