A Plan for Gun Violence Prevention | New NY 23rd

The article by Cath Kestler, an OFA (Organizing For Action) activist and resident of Silver Creek, has also been published in the Dunkirk Observer.


‘My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage.’    —President Barack Obama

Our country has suffered too many tragedies at the hands of dangerous people who use guns to commit terrible acts of violence.

On average, more than 30,000 Americans die in a gun-related death each year, many of them suicides.  In the last decade, more than four million Americans have been victims of an assault, robbery, or other crime involving a gun—more than 20,000 of them are children under the age of 18 killed by firearms.

Though most gun owners use their guns legally and responsibly, there is more we can do to better protect our children and communities—we need to prevent tragedies like those in Virginia Tech, Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, Tucson, Oak Creek, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Roseburg, Oregon and Orlando.

Nine out of ten Americans support expanding background checks.  It’s the right thing to do.  But Congress has repeatedly and shamefully failed to stand up to special interests, who want to maintain the status quo—that’s why we’re taking the fight to the state and local levels where Americans can raise their voices at home and in their communities.

Our own representative in Congress has recently been the recipient of $11,000 from the NRA.  He’s been very vocal regarding keeping things as the status quo in DC regarding gun reform.

Our solution to this epidemic cannot be to do nothing.  Even if we can’t prevent every tragedy, we have to do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  Recently the Supreme Court backed us by taking the first step in refusing to let anyone convicted of domestic violence the chance of owning a gun.

When an extreme minority in the Senate stopped the passage in 2013 bipartisan, common-sense measure to expand background checks and better protect our communities and families, OFA supporters refused to back down.  We know that local organizing can change a community and that can change a state.  And, state by state, we can bring that change to the country.

There is more we can do to prevent gun violence and we’re going to keep doing our part.  Right now, you can join the chorus of OFA supporters asking Congress to commit to #DoSomething today.

We gathered 1.4 million signatures after a minority in the Senate stopped passage of a bill to expand background checks.  OFA supporters canvassed the neighborhoods talking to Americans and together we demanded action and hand-delivered those petitions to Congress.

Background checks save lives.  But today, too many dangerous individuals are still able to get their hands on a gun.  Expanding these checks is a common-sense measure supported by nine out of 10 Americans—including an overwhelmingly majority of gun owners—and would make our families and communities safer.

Federal and state lawmakers should act now to close the loopholes and pass measures to strengthen the background check system.

Two weeks ago I was on Capitol Hill as a part of OFA knocking on doors of the Senate trying to convince the sitting Republicans to stand up against the NRA and to do what their constituents sent them there to do.  I came across a great deal of characters and got to witness the filibuster.  I passed on to them that the time for prayers and holding the victims in their thoughts was overdone and it was time to #DoTheirJob.  Democratic Senators came forth and delivered words from family members of victims, statistics and they spoke from their hearts.  Much unlike, Ted Cruz when he filibustered the Senate into the early morning by reading ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, before the government shutdown, costing the taxpayers $64 billion dollars.

When Rep. John Lewis and a group of Democrats decided a stronger message was needed to be voiced to Speaker Ryan and the House when they refused to bring a gun reform bill to the floor for a vote; they decided that a 25 hour “sit in” style work stoppage was what spoke the loudest—it feel on deaf ears.  Speaker Ryan ran to the press and quickly labeled it a “publicity stunt”, he should know, when he was running as Mitt Romney’s VP in 2012, he showed up at a food pantry, donned an apron and washed CLEAN pots and pans for the cameras.  When he was done—his apron was still clean and he didn’t even break a sweat—now that, was a “publicity stunt”.

As the head of OFA in Chautauqua County I will be calling on you to stand up together and show that we can make calls and send emails to voice our opinions that we are expecting a CLEAN GUN REFORM BILL from the Congress.  Sensible gun laws can save lives.


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