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Letter to the Editor: Has Newtown Massacre Opened Your Eyes to Gun Violence?

In our great country, we send those closest to our hearts — our precious, innocent children — to a safe place, our neighborhood schools. But in the land of the free, our hearts are filled with fear because there is no safe place in a country where 300 million firearms are easily accessible. It does not matter whether these weapons are legally owned. What do we know about these gun owners armed with numerous firearms? A legal upstanding gun owner is one argument or one crisis away from violence. Where do the millions of unstable people who live in our communities obtain their firearms? These dangerous killing weapons are in homes, presumably protecting the family from harm.

We are outraged at the massacre of those innocent children at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school! We don’t want sympathy from elected officials. Thoughts and prayers are NOT ENOUGH. We demand action! Elected officials are to be held accountable! We are now experiencing mass shootings nearly every week in our country.

Every gun control organization, every faith-based organization is calling on the American people to add their voice to insist our elected leaders take action to prevent future tragedies.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy, ordering U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Dec. 18. He also made a statement Friday afternoon about the shooting, saying, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics” and “I will do everything in my power as president to help.” We must hold him to his words. Gun laws matter. Strong and smart gun laws correlate to less gun violence.

The day you read this, 32 Americans will die and four times that many will suffer debilitating injuries from firearms. And this will happen again tomorrow and the next day, totaling 30,000 Americans killed from gun violence every year.

Has this latest killing of 20 young children and seven adults in a school finally opened our eyes? We hope it has, for how many more must die needlessly? We the people must demand action from our president and our legislators at all levels. Think: shootings in malls, theaters, schools and in homes — while loaded and unlocked weapons reside in the homes of millions of Americans, easily accessible — there is no safe and quiet community.

Toni Wellen
Chairwoman, Coalition Against Gun Violence
Santa Barbara

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