Today IS the day to have a debate about gun control, says Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was shot dead in a 1993 massacre on the Long Island Rail Road.
By Carolyn McCarthy/ FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, December 15, 2012
It was insult to injury.
On Friday I had spent the morning crying, mostly in between interviews but sometimes during them, for the innocent young victims of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Their parents, I know, would be going home to presents in the closet that they’ll never be able to give on Christmas Day or Chanukah.
Then I heard White House press secretary Jay Carney say something I’ve heard over and over again from the gun lobby.
“Today is not the day,” he said, to have a conversation about specific measures to reduce gun violence in America.
First I was shocked. And then I got angry. If not today, then when?
I wasn’t alone. The comment sparked a mass reaction on social media and even a spontaneous protest in front of the White House.
“Today is the day,” the public chanted.
They were speaking for the great majority of Americans who believe that there are measures you can take to reduce gun violence, especially when it comes to keeping the most dangerous people from getting access to the most dangerous weapons.
I hope that President Obama was listening to the cries outside his window.
Certainly he understands how terrible this situation is for anyone with kids or who loves kids. I don’t doubt the sincerity of his tears when he addressed the nation that same day.
I feel encouraged by his words that we should “take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
But if we don’t turn those words into a real discussion and real results, we’ll all have failed our kids.
For starters, congressional leaders should schedule public hearings and votes on legislation that’s already sitting in the House and Senate and could save lives immediately.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said “Today is not the day” to talk about gun control. He’s right … that day was long before the massacres in Newtown, Aurora and Virginia Tech.
We should also look at our mental health and juvenile justice practices to see if there’s anything we can do better there — too many of our young people are snapping and resorting to violence in the worst ways.
We also need direct and meaningful leadership from the White House on this — the President must put the weight of his office behind efforts to reduce gun violence. He needs to follow up on that “meaningful action.”
We all agree that the Second Amendment is the law of the land — it’s an American right to own a gun — and the Supreme Court has settled this issue.
But we must also agree that it’s our responsibility to protect public health and enact reasonable safety measures, like we do with cars, or food, or medicine. That’s also the American way, to protect the innocent.
Whenever there’s a mass shooting, a lot of people in Washington like to say what Mr. Carney said Friday, that today is not the day to talk about how gun safety laws can save lives in America. We hear it all the time from the gun lobby, and over-cautious politicians from both sides of the aisle.
I agree, today is not the day to talk about gun laws.
The day for that conversation was long before all those kids in Connecticut died on Friday.
And before the mall shooting in Oregon. And before the temple shooting in Wisconsin. And before the movie theater shooting in Colorado. And before Tucson, and before Binghamton, and before Virginia Tech, and before Columbine, and before my husband was killed on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, and long before that, too.
Too many innocent Americans have been murdered in cold blood for no reason.
It’s never too late to try to save a life. Today is the day for action, to start working to reduce these senseless killings in our nation.
Let’s come together and get this right, for our children’s sake.