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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 3:15 pm | Partly Cloudy 56º


Toni Wellen: There Is a Time for Everything, And Now Is the Time to Rid Our Nation of Guns

There is time for grieving, for healing and action. Santa Barbarans send prayers and condolences to the families and people of Charleston, S.C.

Toni Wellen
Toni Wellen

We are aware that every parent who has lost a child or a family member to gun violence relives those wrenching moments of their loss for the rest of their lives. Charleston, the community of Santa Barbara understands your grief, sorrow and pain. We have shared the loss of loved ones to gun violence and know the angst that remains, knowing you will never see your child live a full life and never feel the arms of your loved one around you.

How many other families and communities are filled with the pain of remembrance because someone with a gun ended an innocent human life? Communities like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, the Sikh temple, Virginia Tech and Columbine still grieve, as do the families of the 30,000 Americans — 88 each day, nine of them children — who are killed by firearms.

“You don’t see murder on this kind of scale, this kind of frequency in any other advanced nation on Earth,” President Barack Obama said in San Francisco on June 19. “I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend it is simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention to do something to stop it is simply politicizing the problem.”

Each time there is a shooting we hear the words “disturbed” and “mentally ill.” Such words malign the large number of Americans struggling with emotional problems who are not violent. We must pay attention and offer concrete help to the population of mentally ill people who live in our families and communities.

Murder by gun is a political issue because the National Rifle Association has successfully enforced that concept through intimidation.

Congress is unable to pass universal background checks and a ban on large ammunition clips that 90 percent of Americans want because politicians are intimidated by the NRA and not influenced by the river of tears that flow from the literally millions of Americans affected by gun violence.

Voices crying out for reasonable gun violence prevention laws in Congress have been silenced, buried by the millions of dollars spent by the NRA to continue manufacturing highly dangerous killing instruments.

Perhaps this will be the time when Americans stand up to the NRA, the craven politicians and the gun enthusiasts who care more about their “rights” than their fellow citizens’ safety. Americans must say “enough; our lives are more important than your guns.” Or we will just go on with our lives, numb to the reality that another mass shooting will occur.

Those of us who are working to find ways to reduce gun violence know that it is not enough to grieve and offer prayers for stricken families. We have cried out with Richard Martinez and said, “Not one more.”

If you have had enough and are motivated to take a stand to work for gun violence prevention, there is a place for you and your ideas in the Coalition Against Gun Violence, a grassroots nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara.

CAGV just held its successful second annual gun buyback event, and the 207 firearms turned over to the Santa Barbara Police Department will never be used to cause a family grief.

Click here for more information about the Coalition Against Gun Violence, or contact us at [email protected] or 805.564.6803.

The Coalition Against Gun Violence and its many supporters mourn with Charleston and the millions of gun violence survivors across America, as we stand together and shout, “Not One More.”

— Toni Wellen is chairwoman of the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

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