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Be present, loud and clear in gun safety debate

“Not one more.”

The father of Chris Martinez, the young student whose life was ended by a gunshot wound in the Santa Barbara mass shooting, said to the press in an emotional speech regarding the tragedy:

“When will this insanity stop? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves … not one more.”

He ended the speech blaming the NRA and irresponsible politicians for the massacre.

There have been 72 school shootings in the 17 months since Sandy Hook. How many children have to die before the gun lobby grows a conscience?

Like the cigarette industry before them, they seem willing to do anything, or make any argument, to keep gun sales growing. They threaten and intimidate elected officials who support even the most basic gun violence prevention laws, then orchestrate recall votes when legislators stand their ground.

They fought successfully to silence research by the Centers for Disease Control regarding effects of gun violence on American health – keeping valuable information out of the discussion. Simply for calling gun violence a health hazard, the NRA has strong-armed members of the U.S. Congress from both sides of the aisle to vote against the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general.

There is a lot at stake for the gun industry these days. Their multi-billion-dollar business that sells guns of every shape and size to a small minority is being threatened by we, the majority, who are finally standing up to say “enough.” The gun lobby knows that time is not on its side as the facts of escalating gun violence beat a bloody path to the bank accounts of the NRA Board of Directors – many of whom are high-ranking gun company executives.

As they reap financial rewards, more than 30,000 people a year – 90 a day – are killed by gun violence in our country; 70,000 are injured. Every three hours and 15 minutes, a child is killed or injured by a gun in the U.S.

Martinez correctly asks, “When will enough people say, ‘stop this madness, we don’t have to live life this way?'” Experience has shown that short bursts of outrage have little effect. The only way to keep our communities and children safe is to stand up and do something about this.

We need to demand that our elected officials – local and national – be courageous and not careerist in their commitment to gun violence prevention. The only way the tail stops wagging the dog is if someone wakes up the dog.

As New Mexicans, there are many things we can do right now.

Take time to meet with your city council representative to support a law requiring all gun owners with children or teenagers in the house to lock up their guns. Twenty-eight states have this law.

Call, write and meet with New Mexico senators and representatives, and ask them to support HB 44 – the bill that requires background checks at gun shows.

Speak to the managers and owners of stores you frequent and ask them to post a “No Firearms Allowed” sign to protect you and their employees. Such a sign makes it illegal to carry a firearm onto private property.

Join national or local gun safety groups – Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action or New Mexicans for Gun Safety – and ask them how you can help.

We need to be present, loud and clear. We need to let the gun lobby and our elected representatives know that our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness trumps any fanatical belief in an extremist interpretation of the Second Amendment.

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