It’s time for a national conversation on gun violence in the United States

Our hearts are broken today“-President Obama, wiping tears from his eyes this afternoon.

I heard his comments on the radio, driving back to DC. I teared up, too. I’ve been mostly reading and listening today, not writing or reporting. I’m thankful I was not responsible for covering breaking news at a media outlet or on the ground in Connecticut, trying to sift fact from fiction or interview bereaved parents or photograph traumatized children.

I can write now with certainty that 27 people were killed by a gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, including 18 children in an elementary school. It’s one of the worst shootings in our nation’s history.

My Facebook feed is full of people offering prayers, voicing anger and frustration, and, happily sharing pictures of their own children. One of my friends announced the birth of his first child. Amidst grieving, new life and joy.

As the reality of this tragedy settles in, this moment may still be too raw to decide exactly what the way forward should be. In the wake of dozens of mass shootings in the past several years, there’s more interest in doing something to prevent them.

What, exactly, we should do to prevent more mass killings should be up for debate, but losing 18 children like this is unbearable. What science says about gun control and killings is not clear, though the literature should inform the debate.

If today is not the time to have that national conversation, many people would like to know when. A new White House epetition asks the President to set a time and place to debate gun policy. Another asks the White House to immediately address gun control through legislation*. As difficult as it may be to navigate the politics of gun control and the 2nd Amendment, that time may have come. That conversation should be balanced by one about mass shootings and mental illness, which is the other significant factor in these events.

In his remarks this afternoon, laden with the emotion that so many of his fellow citizens were feeling, President Obama said that “…we’re going to have to come together to prevent meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

As a country, we need to be able to have a national conversation about what to do next that does not vilify those on the other side of the debate.

I hope our Congress, our Supreme Court, our President and my fellow citizens are ready to work towards preventing more days like today in the year ahead.

The White House epetition to introduce legislation on gun control gained more than 197,000 signatures since its introduction. It was one of the fastest growing White House epetitions to date. By the end of the weekend, it became the most popular epetition in the nation’s history. (Another epetition subsequently passed it in popularly.)

RESPONSE: “We Hear you”

On the evening of December 20, President Obama responded to 32 different epetitions related to gun violence in a video posted on YouTube. It was the first direct response to a White House epetition by a President of the United States.

Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden held the first meeting of a task force formed by the White House to look for ways to reduce gun violence in schools. On December 21st, the National Rifle Association called for armed guards in schools to deter violence.

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8 Comments

Filed under journalism, personal, research, video

8 responses to “It’s time for a national conversation on gun violence in the United States

  1. Prayers for the families not the time for BO or anyone else talking about guns or coming together, so let us not forget these families..

  2. Thank you for the comments on framing a national conversation regarding this latest tragedy. As a father, I cannot express my feelings about this yet. It is as you say too raw and too close to think rationally.

    We need to step back as Americans, breathe, put aside our differences and work on a solution. If the science is not there yet then we need to study the problem(s). From a position of reason come to an agreement and develop policies to stop these outrages against the men, women and children that are our neighbors and loved ones.

  3. Had one of the 6 adults killed been armed, not even another firearm, but maybe a taser, this would not have been such a tragedy. Both my sister and daughter are teachers and both feel they should be able to protect themselves and their children. The gun is no more dangerous than the automobile or ball bat. Allow them to get into the wrong hands and there you go. Some lives saved are better than NO LIVES SAVED. If you think for a minute that “banning firearms from everyone” will solve our issues, then you are a beautiful dreamer.

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  5. As an Australian, I am all for gun control. Guns, rifles, semi-automatics are banned or users need to apply for a gun license here, and because it’s not easy, we do have less gun related deaths, and certainly almost no mad killing sprees. I do sympathise with hunters and aficionados who do have a respect for firearms, but better gun control must be implemented. I am fed up with hearing of these tragedies (after our Port Arthur massacre, it was just horrible: the decimation… and also the SHAME that one of our own could do such evil. So we revised our gun law.) Fact is, Americans need to make it very difficult for nutters to get their hands on guns. That is the sweet short truth.

  6. The time for gun control is here. Any measures that can be taken to prevent or reduce the frequency of such incidents should be taken in my opinion.

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  8. Pingback: Congress passes bill to make unlocking cellphone legal, shining new sunlight on White House e-petitions | E Pluribus Unum

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