In light of a defeated fillibuster, the Senate can now begin discussing possible legislation to counteract gun violence.
On December 14 of last year, days after we all celebrated being done with finals and headed home to see our families, Adam Lanza, a 20 year old, killed his mother and grabbed three guns from her house (a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle and two pistols) before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Once there, he literally shot an entrance for himself into the locked building before gunning down 26 people. Twenty of them were children.
Since that bloody day in December less than a year ago, more than 3,300 additional people have been killed by guns.
When horrific and heart-wrenching events like the shooting at Newtown have occurred in our nation’s past, people have called for gun-control reform and new safeguards against such appalling violence. But these voices calling for change have often died down after a relatively short period of time, having made no significant progress. And that’s what many expected, understandably, to happen this time around too. Except it hasn’t. This time these voices have not been quieted by time, by frustration, by exhaustion, or by the extraordinarily powerful U.S. gun lobby. This time, it’s different.
A huge number of individuals and organizations—ranging from the family members of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre to members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns—have called on the United States government to pass comprehensive gun-control reform. The issue gained more attention last week as family members of the victims of Newtown and supporters of gun-control legislation from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress, tell their stories, and stand in stark opposition to the Republican-threatened filibuster (an act which would effectively prevent any discussion or debate of pieces of new gun-control legislation on the floor of the Senate).
Democrats in the Senate defeated this filibuster last Thursday. This is a small but significant step toward finding a solution to gun violence in our country—our leaders in D.C. at least now have the option to actually discuss possible reforms. Most Republicans do not support stricter gun-control legislation, while Democrats and President Obama are calling for universal background checks and other similar measures. Related issues, such as a ban on high-capacity magazines and the expired ban on assault weapons, are also very much in the spotlight and will likely be brought up during debate.
Even though we won’t know what exactly will come out of this debate for quite some time, it’s extremely important that we as a nation have finally agreed that we should, at the very least, have that debate. And it’s worth noting the astounding number Americans from so many different backgrounds, political ideologies, and communities that are rallying together in order to effect real change in this country. So no matter where you’re from, who you know, what party you belong to, or what you think the solution to gun violence in America is, I’m asking you to pledge to yourself, to the more than 3,000 victims of gun violence this year, and to your country, that this time around, you will not forget.