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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 5:39 pm | Fair 58º


Letter to the Editor: We Are Witnessing a Sea Change for Gun Violence Prevention

The Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence applauds the actions of Democratic House members today has forever changed the long struggle to force Republicans to face the fact the American public wants action.  We have had far too many moments of silence.  Prayers and condolences are not what grieving parents and the public want.  We are all affected by gun violence and we want real action to fight the virus of gun violence that has infected our nation with lethality and with the blood of innocents on a daily basis.

We are inspired by the words and deeds of Democratic House members.  Lois Capps, our Congressional representative was in the middle of this historic moment.  She has stood 100% for gun violence prevention and currently has a bill, Pause for Safety, that would prevent the emotionally ill from purchasing firearms for a determined time.

We know that 90% of Americans want to close the gun show loophole and many are both gun owners and Republicans.  When are the GOP toadies to the NRA going to listen to their constituents?  These are people in their communities who could be the next victims.  Do we really want our children in school to be practicing how to prevent from being shot, riddled full of holes from military-style AR-15 weapons.  This is a lethal firearm, considered the most popular gun by American gun owners, whose the only purpose is to kill as many people as fast as possible.

There are 337 million firearms in America,  more guns than people in the country.  Only one-third of the population owns these dangerous killing instruments.  Enough is enough.  If you chose to be a gun owner, that is now your Second Amendment right.  But that does not mean—any gun, anywhere, any time.  The two-thirds of Americans who chose not to own guns should not live in fear they or family members are in danger of being shot in schools, malls, churches or public venues.

We must stop this carnage now.  Not in a year after 32,000 more people are killed and 100,000 more are wounded.  What do we want: 1) close the gun show loophole, 2) prevent people on the no-fly list, potential terrorists, from purchasing firearms, 3) pass a comprehensive military-style assault weapon ban, and 4) ban large capacity magazines.

Today I received a message from a colleague in Australia, Phil Alpers, stating: "Banning rapid-fire firearms was associated with reductions in mass shootings and total firearm deaths.”  This ban occurred after a mass shooting in 1996 in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia when 35 people were shot by an automatic rifle. “Prime Minister Howard then asked politicians and the country, how can we prevent such a tragedy from happening ever again?”  What followed was a concerted effort led from the top to ban the importation and sale of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in Australia.

"In the 18 years before the ban (in Australia) there were 13 mass shootings, whereas in the 20 years following the ban no mass shootings occurred, and the decline in total firearm deaths accelerated."

Alpers went on to say, “Opponents of public health measures to reduce the availability of firearms often claim that "killers just find another way." Our findings show the opposite: there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and the same was true of suicide. We hope these results will inform the debate.”

 Look to California.  We lead the nation with our comprehensive gun violence prevention laws and continue to work on more ways to reduce gun violence in California.  There are currently 11 gun violence prevention bills working their way through our legislature.  Yes Congress, take a lesson from California, a state where gun deaths from both homicide and suicide are in a steep decline in comparison to nation-wide gun deaths.

Santa Barbarans, applaud House Democrats and encourages Santa Barbarans do as they have done.  Take a stand, get involved.  Gun violence has occurred in our community. Work to reduce the virus of gun violence and join the Coalition Against Gun Violence.  www.sbcoalition.org

Toni Wellen, chairwoman
Coalition Against Gun Violence

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