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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

We Deserve Better

Tragically, America has been rocked once again by gun violence from coast to coast. From a shooting near UPS center in San Francisco to a shooting near our nation’s Capitol – where it appears our nation’s leaders were targeted.

Details are still unfolding, but so far we know that during a congressional baseball practice at least one member of Congress was shot, alongside congressional staffers and police officers. Other members of Congress and their family members were present.

The humanity of the response to this shooting has been overwhelming: lawmakers crying on television while giving thanks to the police who responded so quickly and saved so many lives, an image of the Democrats’ baseball team gathering to pray for their colleagues.

But what impacted me so viscerally was a photo of Representative Joe Barton and his sons boarding a train in Alexandria after the shooting. According to witnesses, Rep. Barton’s 10-year-old son hid under a bench in the dugout as shots were fired.

As a mother, I recognized the fear and concern Rep. Barton had for his son and how as parents, we hold our children’s safety paramount to anything else on earth.

The trauma of this shooting has played out in far too many American communities every single day. Ninety-three Americans are shot and killed daily, and hundreds more are injured by gunfire. 

Too many Americans have experienced what it’s like to be shot or have a loved one killed by gun violence.

There will be all kinds of speculation today. Pundits will point fingers and place blame. And we’ll all hug our loved ones a little tighter.

The bottom line is this: Americans should be able to practice baseball, dance in a nightclub, and attend religious services without the threat of gun violence.

No other developed nation suffers from the same rates of gun violence. In fact, America’s gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average other peer nations.

We deserve better. We must come together to make it better. So much of the gun violence in America is not only senseless, but preventable. There are solutions.

Rep. Rodney Davis said after the shooting, “I never thought I’d play a baseball game for charity, go to practice… and have to dodge bullets.”

This is sadly the current reality in America. The only way to change that reality is to face it together.

Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

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